Mission: The primary goal of Green Up Our Schools is to reduce the amount of waste that is disposed of in landfills. Recycling rates in the United States are on the decline and have been since 1996. To address this issue, Green Up Our Schools is working to change the norms within elementary school systems, such that students are introduced to conservation at a young age and those habits become second nature.
If commercial recycling is not available in schools then we are missing an invaluable opportunity to educate students on why we recycle and to establish the habit of recycling. If we are not doing this, then how can we be surprised that students are averse to changing their habits later in life?
Green Up Our Schools believes that it is important that our schools reflect the vision of the society that we want to bring about. If we can create this reality in our schools, then students will take that with them beyond their schools and into the world and will question why businesses, governments, and other entities are not recycling (rather than asking why they are…).
Green Up Our Schools is providing the funding needed to put recycling programs in place in our elementary schools and is guiding schools through the process of setting up successful programs. We are asking for your partnership and support to mold our schools into a vision of a sustainable future.
Results: The high level of interaction and support that our program provides to teachers is the cornerstone of Green Up Our Schools. Teachers have a high demand for their time and can easily get spread too thin. The Green Up Our Schools program is structured to ensure that teachers have the tools, funding, and accountability to be successful (our program manager takes an active role in the success of our schools). As a result, schools have a 98% success rate in implementing their 2 projects per year and overwhelmingly positive teacher feedback in our end of school year program surveys
Major accomplishments that the program has seen include:
• ~1.5 million Styrofoam trays replaced with reusable or biodegradable options in 2012 in DPS
• Commercial recycling (~79,000 students given access to recycling)
• Reusable or biodegradable lunch trays (replacing ~1.5 million Styrofoam trays each year)
• Schools in our Green Up Our Schools Program improve their recycling by 63%
• Free commercial recycling service available to all Denver Public Schools
• Free reusable trays available to all Denver Public Schools that have a dishwasher installed on site
• 10 schools participating in commercial composting in their lunchrooms; 175,000 lbs of material diverted from the landfill by participating schools in 2011
• An average of 63% reduction in recyclable materials disposed of in landfills across all schools after three years in the program
• Widespread interest amongst graduating schools to remain with the program, and creation of a 4th year grant
• 100% retention rate
Target demographics: Green Up Our Schools provides funding for proposed waste reduction and recycling plans in elementary schools.
Geographic areas served: California and Colorado, but eager to expand!
Programs: Green Up Our Schools is an environmental 501(c)(3) public charity whose member schools improve their recycling by 63% and divert ~240,000lbs of recyclable material from the landfill each year. We are a small budget organization and can see a school through the three year program at a cost of $2,500. Each school receives that program cost of $2,500 over the course of the 3-year program, which may be used for anything that promotes the success of the program.
This may include buying recycling bins, reusable utensils and containers for the school cafeteria, recycling services provided by a commercial waste hauler, compensation for extra time spent on the program by the teacher in charge, etc.
I've been volunteering with Green Up Our Schools for two years now and have seen first hand the impact that the program has on the elementary schools students that participate. Students get excited about recycling competitions, green teams, and coming up with other ways of protecting the planet. I hear stories every year of students going home, or on to middle school, and asking the question "why aren't we recycling", rather than asking "why should we recycle". The things they learn in the program stick with them.
Please take the time to learn more about this great program and donate!