Earth Day 2020
The 50th anniversary of Earth Day will be different than most. Schools won’t be doing their usual Earth Day activities this year. But many schools have been working to achieve or maintain their King County Green Schools status throughout the year. Here are some of their activities from earlier in the year.
At Rachel Carson Elementary, students performed a waste audit and designed educational posters to target commonly missorted items. Students also brainstormed ways to reduce their school’s energy use. One idea was to count every light switch in the school. Their advisor requested “turn off the lights” stickers from King County Green Schools based on the student audit.
Ella Baker Elementary
In the fall, the Green Team at Ella Baker Elementary School learned that students were not correctly sorting compost and recyclables during lunch. When too many materials are incorrectly sorted, the utility has to throw all of it into the trash.
The Green Team took quick action. They weighed the cafeteria waste in September and found that 100 pounds of lunch waste was going into the trash daily. In October, they made educational announcements and 3-D signs so students were aware of the problem and could see visually what should go where.
Green Team students and parent volunteers helped students learn to sort their lunch waste correctly. Now, food waste (compostables) account for about 70 pounds of lunch waste. Recyclables are about 10 pounds. About 20 pounds is going to the landfill each day. That’s 80 pounds less than when they started.
When school starts again, the Green Team plans to focus on reducing food waste.
Rosa Parks Elementary School
The Rosa Parks Elementary School Green Team has a meeting each month to work on projects. This year, they made G.O.O.S. (Good On the Other Side) bins for each classroom to encourage mindfulness while repurposing paper.
Another activity was creating 3-D posters for the cafeteria. Student “lunchroom helpers” take turns showing their classmates what to put in each waste bin (recycle, compost or trash).
Rush Elementary School
Students at Benjamin Rush Elementary School made 3-D posters for the cafeteria to educate their school community how to properly sort garbage, recycling and compostable materials during lunch.
The Green Team also researched chemicals that are used for cleaning. Advisors collected product labels so students could research potential physical hazards, health hazards, environmental hazards and disposal methods for each product.
Sandburg Elementary/Discovery Community School
During the 2019-20 school year, Carl Sandburg Elementary/Discovery Community School continued its food share and donation pilot program to reduce food waste. The school also implemented reusable utensils.
The expanded Peaceful Patio program, which is offered during lunch recess, includes activities such as gardening that connect to sustainability and environmental education. This was the second year the school has offered the program.
Juanita High School
Juanita High School Earth Corps students held a litter cleanup event in the fall. In the spring, they created a no-idle video and handed out a “no idling pledge.” The pledge asked students, parents and staff to turn off the car engine while waiting longer than 10 seconds.
Students also helped plant native plants to help ongoing habitat restoration efforts at Kirkland’s Josten Park.
Ben Franklin Elementary
In February, the fifth grade Green Team at Ben Franklin Elementary introduced a 30-Day Challenge to Reduce Single Use Plastic and #RefuseSUP in March. Students went to each classroom to show a three-minute video and present the challenge to other students.
During daily morning announcements, the Green Team announced the day’s challenge. Some of the challenges: Bring your own water bottle, don’t pack items with Styrofoam peanuts, use lunch containers that are washable and reusable, carry reusable silverware or chopsticks.
After schools closed, the Franklin PTSA sustainability chair added the graphic of ideas to the weekly PTSA e-newsletter so families could continue the challenge at home.
At Emily Dickinson Elementary, the student Green Team implemented compost collection in classrooms. Students collect the classroom compost at the end of each school day.
McAuliffe Elementary School
Christa McAuliffe Elementary School kicked off compost collection for paper towels in January 2020. Eighteen classrooms are now participating in the program.
Wilder Elementary School
At Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary School, students set a goal of reducing the number of bags of trash produced at classroom parties. They encouraged students to use their lunch boxes and asked volunteers to use reusable serving utensils and platters for special snacks. Because of these efforts, the school reduced the number of bags of trash from 24 bags in 2018 to nine bags in 2019.
Finn Hill Middle School
At Finn Hill Middle School, students had the option of participating in a litter analysis as part of their remote learning. They made observations about the litter they collected, including the common types of litter found, how the litter likely got there and why people may have thrown out the litter.
Redmond Middle School
At Redmond Middle School, the PTSA minimized waste by using an overhead projector instead of printing paper handouts.
Timberline Middle School
Earlier this year, the Green Team at Timberline Middle School participated in a “Trash on a Tarp” lunchroom waste audit. Students collected data on the weight of their waste before and after materials were properly sorted.