Success story: Renton Park Elementary School
School District: Renton
School Location: Unincorporated King County
Began participating in the Green Schools Program: April 2011
Level One of the Green Schools Program: Achieved in December 2011
Waste reduction and recycling
- In April 2011, Renton Elementary started with a 37 percent recycling rate. By December 2011, the school had increased its recycling rate to 50 percent.
- Thanks to the school’s improved recycling and waste reduction practices, recycling volume increased and the frequency of garbage collection decreased.
- To achieve this success, the school’s green team conducted education and outreach, and the school initiated a variety of waste reduction and recycling practices.
- The green team placed recycling stickers that list what can and can’t be recycled on classroom, office and workroom recycling containers.
- Green team students received training on how to maintain the lunchroom recycling program and have taken ownership by training other students. Green team students, assisted by parent volunteers, help fellow students in the lunchroom by showing what and how to recycle.
- Renton Park no longer uses Styrofoam trays in the cafeteria. Lunchroom manager Kosir successfully petitioned the Renton School District to replace the disposable polystyrene lunch trays with durable, reusable trays.
- The school improved classroom recycling and began a recycling program in the school cafeteria, where students empty leftover milk and other liquids into collection buckets, then place empty milk cartons into a recycling container. Throughout the school, students and staff recycle paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, and plastic bottles.
- In addition, the school recycles printer cartridges and cell phones. Capri Sun drink pouches are collected in separate containers in every classroom, the library and the teacher’s lounge and sent to TerraCycle which uses them to make new products.
- Cafeteria and kitchen staff members recycle steel cans, plastic bottles, and cardboard.
- To reduce food waste, cafeteria supervisors remind students to “only take what they can eat.”
- Uneaten or unopened food items are collected on a table in the cafeteria for sharing. Students may take what they want from the share cart.
- As part of Renton Parks’ Meaningful Jobs Program, students are hired as recycling managers to make rounds every Tuesday and Thursday during their afternoon recess to remove recycled paper and TerraCycle products from the classrooms.
- To reduce paper use, staff workrooms have paper reuse boxes for paper that’s only been used on one side, and construction paper scraps are used for scratch paper, notes, and art projects. Signs were placed on photocopy machines to promote double-sided photocopying.
- School librarian Lindfors led a week-long curriculum on recycling and the human footprint. Her curriculum was aided by books purchased for the library by the PTA. At the end of the week the librarian asked students to sign a pledge to practice conservation. The green pledge forms, in the shape of a hand print, were placed on the pledge tree in the common area for everyone to see.
- The principal, JoEllen Tapper, made weekly PA announcements regarding recycling facts and our global impact.
- Recycling containers also are set out at every school event, such as movie nights.
- The school’s green team added a monthly column to the school’s newsletter with tips and facts about recycling.
- Green team students created posters about going green and placed them around the school.
- The school began 2011-12 with a school-wide assembly and classroom workshops provided by King County.
For more information about the school’s conservation achievements and participation in the Green Schools Program, contact:
JoEllen Tapper, principal