Discovery wins award for being ‘green’

May 01, 2013
Photo by: Sara Bruestle The Green Team fourth graders helped their school reduce waste and win a Washington Green Schools Level II award.

Discovery Elementary is now one of only 12 schools in Washington state to meet Level II requirements for the Washington Green Schools.

The school was recognized an assembly on April 19 and received an award for student and staff efforts to “go green.”

Washington Green Schools is a program that challenges private and public K-12 schools throughout Washington to make their learning environments sustainable by conserving resources.

The program’s overall goal is to decrease schools’ environmental footprint by reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting all waste products.

Discovery staff took it upon themselves to educate their students on ways to take care of the environment, starting with making small changes to reduce waste.

A Green Team, comprised of the Discovery principal, staff and a group of fourth graders, took action to make lasting changes that teach sustainable practices to the school body.

“The [students] asked to be on the green team,” said teacher Laurie James, a member of the Green Team. “They said, ‘We can make a difference. We want to change our school.’ We trained them, and away they went.”

Students had started thinking about becoming a “green” school after they attended an assembly that featured Waste Management and the environmental benefits of recycling.

“These students understood that recycling was important to our community, and by working together they could make a difference by increasing recycling, reusing and composting, which as a result would reduce garbage,” James said.

Research was conducted to learn more about the current waste practices at Discovery Elementary.

Here were the findings:

Each month, the school disposed of 40 yards of garbage, 20 yards of recyclables, and four yards of compost materials.

It was determined that more than 80 percent of the products in the garbage can and could have been recycled or composted.

The garbage “was the first place where the Green Team decided to focus to make change at Discovery Elementary,” James said.

The Green Team students were trained to identify what waste products were recyclable, compostable or considered garbage. Then, the students created signs to identify what products could go in each bin.

Next, staff talked with the student body about correct recycling and composting practices.

In two months, the school has seen a 25 percent reduction in garbage and a decrease in its monthly waste bill by 17 percent.

“There have been remarkable results in just a short period of time after implementing changes at Discovery Elementary,” James said. “We learned that taking one step at a time can make a difference.”

For more information Washington Green Schools, go to www.wagreenschools.org.

-Edited by Beacon staff

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