Hundreds of schools from 33 cities in King County are reducing waste and recycling, conserving resources, and cutting costs with help from the King County Green Schools Program.
The program has served a growing number of schools each year – from 100 schools in 2009-10 to 230 schools in 2015-16.
“King County Green Schools Program directly supports our goal of increasing the County’s recycling rate from 54 percent to 70 percent by 2020,” said Pat McLaughlin, director of the King County Solid Waste Division.
The Green Schools Program involves students and school employees in learning about and practicing resource conservation. Participating schools and school districts have reported saving money through reduced garbage volumes and decreased energy and water use.
“This month we are recognizing six schools for their Green School achievements,” said Dale Alekel, Green Schools Program manager. “Participating schools are initiating or improving sustainable practices and are teaching students and employees about conservation.”
Of the 230 schools participating in the program:
• 201 have been recognized as Level One King County Green Schools for their waste reduction and recycling efforts;
• 115 have been recognized as Level Two Green Schools for energy and actions focused on energy conservation;
• 83 have been recognized as Level Three Green Schools for education and actions related to water conservation and pollution prevention; and
• 28 have been recognized as Sustaining Green Schools.
Sustaining Green Schools maintain conservation practices established during the first three levels of the program and complete an additional conservation practice or educational strategy from the program’s best practices guides.
“For students, teachers, custodians, administrators, and other school community members such as parents who have joined together to achieve the first three levels of the program, the Sustaining Green School level offers an incentive to sustain and build on their good work,” Alekel said.
Three schools have been recognized as Sustaining Green Schools 2015-16:
Endeavour Elementary School (Issaquah School District) expanded its waste-free Wednesday lunch campaign from once each month to weekly. The student Green Team encouraged students and parents to pack lunches in durable and recyclable containers. Student Waste Watchers monitored lunchroom recycling stations to help students place items in the correct location.
Lakeridge Elementary School (Mercer Island School District) achieved a 70 percent recycling rate. The school held a clothing donation drive. Students created gifts made from discarded and recyclable materials. The PTA hosted zero waste school-wide events at which only compostable and recyclable materials were used. All exterior lights in the school were switched to energy-efficient LED lights.
The Overlake School (private school, Redmond) initiated and sustained a variety of environmental education and service projects, as well as earth-friendly actions, and has integrated green practices at all levels of the organization. In 2015, the school installed compost equipment to break down food scraps on campus, and used the compost in campus gardens.
Maywood Middle School (Issaquah School District) was recognized as a Level Two King County Green School for its energy conservation education and actions and for sustaining and building on its waste reduction and recycling practices. The school promoted a One Paper Towel Challenge to reduce bathroom paper towel waste. Green Team students presented the campaign to the school district, Boeing, and other businesses. The team also made weekly energy conservation announcements, and eighth-grade biology students calculated their carbon footprints as part of the curriculum.
Two schools were recognized as Level One King County Green Schools for their waste reduction and recycling practices.
Juanita High School (Lake Washington School District) set up a “food too good to waste” share table for unopened school lunch program foods and collected compostable materials to be sent to a composting facility. The student Green Team created a music video to educate peers about sorting trash, recyclable and compostable materials. Teachers and students reduced paper use by using electronic versions of presentations and assignments.
Meadow Crest Early Learning Center (Renton School District) achieved a recycling rate of 64 percent. The lead custodian taught staff about waste reduction and recycling practices, and teachers worked with students on sorting garbage, recyclable and compostable materials. The school purchased compostable products, including cereal bowls, fruit cups and serving boats, and collected food scraps along with compostable serving-ware. Milk waste was reduced by using half-gallon containers and serving milk upon request in small cups.
Learn more by contacting Alekel at 206-477-5267 or firstname.lastname@example.org.