The Green Team students at Apollo Elementary in the Issaquah School District have worked to reduce lunch time waste for several years. This year’s focus, with guidance from teachers Andrea Wolfe and Hayley Mathis, is teaching all students and staff how to have a zero-waste lunch. The biggest challenges are packaging and uneaten food. The team has regular lunchroom helpers, shares waste reduction ideas in announcements, creates hallway signs, and places notes in students’ lunch boxes with tips on how to reduce waste. They check progress by weighing the waste and have already seen improvement.
Custodian Vicki Ball at Lake View Elementary in the Auburn School District is an expert at teaching kids to sort their lunch time waste. Looking for new ideas, she invited a Green Team specialist to assist with green team organization and communication. One group of students monitored the lunch stations as usual, while the rest of the team split into two groups. One group created a bulletin board to help fourth-grade teachers know when it was their turn to send Green Team students. The other group made instructional signs, laminated them, and hung them at the waste stations.
The fifth-grade Green Team at Highlands Elementary in the Renton School District gives up their recesses to help other students with recycling and composting in the lunchroom. With support from teacher Andrea Gollub, the Green Team plans to present their success to the Renton School Board in March, using video and posters.
Gordon Kelly, assistant principal, reports that the fourth-grade Green Team at Kings Elementary School collects paper towels from classrooms for composting instead of throwing them in the trash. All the fourth through sixth-grade classrooms have participated and the Green Team plans to collect from the primary classrooms soon.
Library tech and Green Team advisor, Shawn Sheller, at Soos Creek Elementary in the Kent School District coordinated a Green Team workshop during which students shared successes and challenges of teaching others how to recycle properly. The students committed to continue to monitor lunch time waste sorting, participate in litter patrols, and plan a series of outreach projects and public service announcements.
Similar to efforts by other schools and the county to reduce food waste, the Southwood Elementary Green Team is teaching all students how to pack a waste-free lunch. With guidance from teacher Jody Emerson, the team has been educating students and families by sending home informative flyers and creating skits that they perform at “Panther Pride” assemblies. They also created signs to hang near the lunch time recycling area. Their biggest challenge is getting students to follow through at home. With their continued efforts, they are starting to see a reduction in the amount of food waste and packaging.
Teachers and Green Team leaders Jennifer Gjurasic and Heidi Smith were looking for a new and creative way for the Snoqualmie Elementary Green Team to teach the student body key waste reduction messages. They wanted to make videos, but were struggling to find the time to come up with a plan and film. They decided to schedule a Green Team workshop. The specialist prepared four scripts (paper recycling, plastic recycling, food waste reduction and top five green actions) along with props and advice on how to make a fun and informative video. The leaders used their phones to film the students after they had a chance to practice during Green Team meetings. The Green Team specialist then edited the videos adding sound and simple text overlays. This one-minute video on paper recycling is an excellent example of their work.
The fifth-grade Green Team at Westwood Elementary in the Enumclaw School District has been actively working to reduce lunchroom waste and increase recycling for the past five years. Advisor Laura Hoover-Sanders reports that these activities are now a part of the school culture. In addition to monitoring classroom recycling, members monitor lunchroom stations, including a share table where an average of 60 items per lunch period are kept out of the garbage or food composting bin. This year, members are tracking which food items are being composted or thrown away and sharing the results with the Head of Nutrition Services at the end of each month. As a result plastic-bagged carrots, which are sometimes slimy from storage, have been removed from the lunch menu.
With over 800 students at Woodmoor Elementary in the Northshore School District, teacher John Moore and the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade Green Teams had a lot of students to teach proper recycling techniques. After working with their Green School representative, the team created its own sorting bags to teach students proper sorting. Using the sorting bags, Green Team students taught over 20 classrooms how to recycle. Once the student body is really good at recycling, the team hopes to work on reducing food waste.