Zero Waste: Schools and Kids Lead the Way
All over the west, schools are hot-beds of anti-waste activism, taking exciting steps to reduce waste as part of shrinking their environmental footprints:
- Fourth graders involved in the Plastic Free Schools Hawaii project chant their school's new slogan, "Be Fantastic, Don't Use Plastic!" as they work to reduce marine debris.
- Inika Small Earth just started on a Zero Waste Sustainability Roadmap for Carlsbad schools and will launch a similar project for San Diego Schools.
- Alameda County schools are now achieving a 57% waste diversion rate. San Francisco Unified has met its 50% waste diversion goal, with some individual schools diverting as much as 80% of their waste. SFUSD is now reaching for a district goal of 55% diversion. The San Francisco School, an independent school has reached over 93% waste diversion through recycling and composting!
Learn from these schools' experiences and click on the Resources link below to heat up your school's anti-waste efforts.
"Be Fantastic, Don't Use Plastic!"
No one likes to imagine majestic marine creatures dying due to human carelessness. Yet some researchers estimate that tens of thousands of marine creatures die each year due to plastic litter.
Plastic waste affects marine ecosystems by destroying habitats and coral reefs, and killing animals that eat or become entangled in the debris. Just about all kids find this unacceptable, and once they know how to take steps to protect marine life, they're eager to do so.
Enter Plastic Free Schools Hawaii, a program of the Kokua Hawaii Foundation. Plastic Free Schools educates school communities about how to reduce single-use plastic, and provides tools and resources to help them choose reusables and pack waste-free lunches.
Forty student leaders took part in March in the 5th International Marine Debris Conference in Honolulu, including helping to clear over a ton of marine debris from a local beach in just 2 hours. One student participant commented, "What I loved most about it was the emphasis it put on the fact that a single person can make a difference. It's not just for the next generation or the one after that. It is for all the generations that come after us."
With that in mind, let's all join the students from Jefferson Elementary School in Hawaii and "be fantastic, don't use plastic!"
Carlsbad Schools Begin "Zero-Waste Sustainability Roadmap"
It simply makes no sense to toss paper-based products that are recyclable or compostable into the landfill, and once kids learn about such issues, they're eager to be part of the solution.
Paper-based products account for up to 42% of the local school waste stream, according to Inika Small Earth, a grassroots movement of environmental activists, parents, teachers and students based in San Diego. But not for long.
Inika recently started working on a Zero Waste Sustainability Roadmap with four elementary schools in the Carlsbad Unified School District, and is planning a similar project for San Diego Unified. The pilot project will provide Carlsbad Unified with a zero waste blueprint and an assessment of the opportunities and challenges in adopting a zero waste goal for their schools.
Inika was founded to amplify children's voices around the issues that affect their education, their health and their environmental footprint. It aims to design and implement simple solutions that save money for school districts, shrink our environmental footprint, and enrich children's lives and futures. Learn more about Inika and their work.
6 Resources for Becoming a Zero-Waste School