Leadership Students Spearhead Environmental Action at Enumclaw Middle School

A school garden, hydration stations, and personal care products are among the topics that have spurred action from Karl Karkainen’s leadership students at Enumclaw Middle School. These students are leading initiatives to conserve resources and improve personal and environmental health.

Over the summer, the students planted a pesticide-free garden. The garden provided an opportunity for students to learn about integrated pest management strategies, which encourages natural rather than chemical pest control mechanisms. Students further reduced the environmental impact of their garden by selecting plants adapted to Washington’s climate as a water conservation measure.


The student team also successfully advocated for the installation of a water bottle filling station and led a campaign encouraging the use of reusable bottles to reduce the number of disposable water bottles used at on campus. Participation in the King County Green Schools Program  enabled the school to receive support and assistance in this and other actions related to waste reduction and recycling, energy conservation, and water conservation and pollution prevention practices.

After attending a Hazards on the Homefront teacher workshop sponsored by the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program (LHWMP) in King County, Mr. Karkainen requested a classroom presentation from the program for his students. The presentation described the principal hazards of household hazardous products and discussed strategies for reducing exposure to them such as choosing safer, non-chemical products. The students completed additional research and activities and presented the results to their peers in a series of video announcements. Watch student presentations on the following:Karl Karkainen student video screenshot

  • Enthusiasm, Cologne and Water Conservation – Starting at minute 2:35, students discuss the hazards of breathing in personal care products such as colognes, perfumes, and other items containing fragrance. They also describe how individual responses to these potential irritants can vary.
  • Global Project Preview, Weather and Impact of Salt – Starting at minute 3:57, students discuss the potential hazards when products, such as de-icing salts or pesticides, dissolve in surface water.

Links to videos and other resources for teaching students about household hazardous waste can be found on King County’s Hazardous Waste School Program web page.