Success story: Crestwood Elementary School
School Location: Covington
Participated in the Green Schools Program: 2002–2003; participated again starting in 2010
Level One of the Green Schools Program: Achieved in May 2011
Level Two of the Green Schools Program: Achieved in May 2012
Level Three of the Green Schools Program: Achieved in May 2013
2015-16 Sustaining Green School: Achieved in May 2016
Sustaining green school – 2015-16
- Crestwood maintained a 44 percent recycling rate.
- A King County Green Schools Program representative presented at lunchtime about the landfill and why it is important to recycle and compost at school and at home.
- Throughout the school year Crestwood Recyclers, under the guidance of 6th grade teacher Bette Mansfield, collected recyclable materials throughout the building twice per week. As they collect the materials, Crestwood Recyclers look for and correct contamination. They make regular announcements to update the rest of the student body on recycling practices.
- bEARTHa Composters presented to lunch groups to remind them to recycle. While one student presented information, others sorted through trash cans, pulling out recyclable materials to show students what can be recycled.
- During lunches, Crestwood’s child nutrition lead Judy Sperle walked around the cafeteria reminding students to compost and recycle.
- Throughout the year, bEARTHa Composters and Crestwood Recyclers reminded fellow students at school and family at home to recycle.
- After discussing at-home composting with students, flyers were sent home in February and April to introduce composting and provide resources to help families get started.
- To celebrate Earth day, students invited their parents and grandparents to eat lunch with them at school. During this time, the students showed their parents the school’s recycling and composting program.
Waste reduction and recycling (level one)
- To reduce paper use, menus and custodial work orders were placed online, smart boards were placed in classrooms, lunch rosters were printed on the backside of paper that has been used on one side, and parents were given the opportunity to receive electronic newsletters.
- Student volunteers worked with staff to turn food scraps into compost with the help of an Earth Tub, a composting system that students call “bEARTHa.” (See 2002-03 successes below for background information about bEARTHa.) In 2011, students increased the food waste going to bEARTHa instead of the landfill because they began eating in a central lunchroom where they could be better instructed. Also, during a long power outage in 2012, perishable school food that had to be disposed of was brought to bEARTHa instead of being placed in the trash.
- In 2012-13, Crestwood used bEARTHa to compost material, which was then used as mulch around the school grounds.
- In 2013, Crestwood set up an on-site greenhouse. The school used bEARTHa soil in the greenhouse and flower beds.
- The school did not use lunchroom trays, thereby conserving water and energy.
- Education about waste reduction and recycling was conducted regularly in the lunchroom and at assemblies, with leadership from head custodian Carol Talmadge, cook Judi Sperle, and teacher Bette Mansfield.
- Members of Crestwood’s student environmental club, Defenders of the Planet, emptied classroom recyclable materials including cardboard into the school’s outdoor recycling container daily.
- A staff member coordinated taking all of the school’s scrap metal to a scrap yard. The scrap metal included shelving, magazine racks, old pieces of pipe, discarded table and chair legs that would otherwise end up in the garbage Dumpster.
- Students collected 3,500 milk cartons each month to be recycled.
- The school proudly displayed its Green School banner in the multipurpose room to serve as a reminder of their waste reduction and recycling efforts.
- Defenders of the Planet made presentations about recycling to classes throughout the school.
- Totes were placed in classrooms to collect paper used on one side that can be used on the other side.
- The school initiated an on-site food waste composting program. Read Feeding "The Big Pig" and saving the planet external link from the Feb. 3, 2007 edition of The Seattle Times to learn about Crestwood's experiences with the first Earth Tub composting system in a King County school.
Energy conservation (level two)
- The school’s lighting system was upgraded in 2010 with energy efficient lighting.
- The Crestwood Green Schools team placed energy conservation labels near all light switches and electrical equipment in the school reminding staff and students to turn them off when not in use.
- The school created energy conservation pledges that were signed by custodians and students.
- During the winter months, students and staff were encouraged to dress appropriately for the season and keep the thermostats set at 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The night custodian made sure all TV’s, Smart Boards, computer monitors and classroom lights were shut off at the end of each day.
- In 2012, teachers agreed to select art projects that do not require using the ceramic kiln, which will result in electricity savings as kilns are big consumers of electricity.
- In 2013, bEARTHa members created additional posters reminding staff and students to turn off lights and electronic equipment.
- In 2012-13, Crestwood purchased an energy-saving washing machine to wash full loads of towels used for table washing.
- Ninety-five volunteer student monitors were trained to regularly pull window blinds and turn off lights, computer monitors, printers, TVs and VCRs at the end of each day.
Water conservation and pollution prevention (level three)
- Student bEARTHa club members created posters asking students and staff to conserve water and report leaky faucets. These posters were placed near classrooms and sinks throughout the school.
- Custodian Carol Talmadge routinely checked for leaky faucets and reported problems immediately for maintenance.
- Crestwood conserved water by using low flow toilets, waterless urinals, low flow washing machines and leak sensors in the playfield.
- The Kent School District custodial department implemented a new process for cleaning and sanitizing restrooms that reduces water consumption.
- Kindergarten students recited, “One Two Three That’s Enough For Me” when they are washing their hands.
- Crestwood collected rain water in a rain barrel to water the school’s flower beds and greenhouse plants.
- The school’s butterfly garden includes groundcover plants that require little water.
- Students assisted head custodian Talmadge to educate students and staff as to why they should never dump wastewater and other chemicals into streams or storm drains. Talmadge worked with four kindergarten classes to paint a fish symbol near a storm drain to remind people not to dump wastewater.
- Sixth-grade students researched watersheds and how their water is processed.
- Student author Annie Livingood had her watershed report published in the Covington-Black Diamond-Maple Valley Reporter.
- Retired teacher Jan Simmons raised salmon from eggs in a large aquarium located in the school library. Simmons tested local streams for pH levels and other indicators of a healthy watershed. She and the students released salmon fry in nearby Little Soos Creek.
- In 2003, Crestwood achieved a 60 percent reduction in water consumption.
- Through the installation of low-flow toilets and no-water urinals in the summer of 2002, Crestwood saved 230 cubic feet of water, or more than 172,040 gallons, and approximately $1,600 in water costs over a seven-month period, as compared to the same seven-month period the year before.
- During 2003-2004, a 90-gallon water barrel was installed to collect rainwater for use in student gardens.
- In 2003-04, hand-washing rhymes to encourage water conservation were tested by Defenders of the Planet club members and then shared with the school.
- Most faucets throughout the school shut off automatically to conserve water.
- Crestwood received a King County Earth Hero at School award in 2003.
For more information about the school’s conservation achievements and participation in the Green Schools Program, contact:
Carol Talmadge, head custodian
Bette Mansfield, teacher
Sandra de Marre, environmental services supervisor, Kent School District