Dear Blakely Elementary Staff, December 5th, 2011
In 2009, Washington adopted the K-12 Integrated Environmental and Sustainability Learning Standards. Part of the goal is to “increase…environmental literacy and enhance…academic achievement through real-world, integrated, project-based learning.” Toward that end, last month Blakely parent Rebecca Rockefeller, Sustainable Bainbridge Board Member Liesl Clark, and Zero Waste Bainbridge coordinator (and sometime Blakely sub) Diane Landry met with Principal Ande and later with the rest of your leadership committee to talk about raising awareness concerning what is going into the school trash and how to decrease the quantity or reroute its destination.
As a first step, we would like to invite you and your students to take part in a school waste audit, the basic premise of which is to determine how much stuff that gets tossed (to be trucked off and then put on a train bound for an Oregon landfill) could instead be diverted towards reuse, recycling or composting. Last year some Minneapolis schools conducted their own audit and discovered that approximately 80% of all their waste could be kept out of the landfill!
The procedure is simple and fun J: we collect and weigh one day’s worth of school trash, empty it out onto tarps and sort according to end stream (the MN study came up with 19 categories!). Then we weigh what really goes to the landfill versus what can be reused, recycled or composted. Everyone gets a chance to see that “getting rid of” something can mean giving it a second life instead of having it end up buried in a big hole in the ground. The learning would not have to stop there, as we have ideas and could furnish materials for follow-up activities that would blend right into your daily lessons, as well as be utilized by the specialists.
We hope to conduct the audits in January. We will provide all the supplies and adult supervision and will modify the audit as fits your needs and schedule. After the results are in, we can explore any next steps: zero waste party kits? lunch organics collection? ramped-up recycling? your ideas? The state environmental and sustainability standards call for children to develop a sense of civic responsibility and become “better stewards of the earth’s finite resources”. We – Rebecca, Liesl, and Diane – are eager to help Blakely students and staff with this endeavor.
Please use the contact information below to get in touch with us before winter break if you are interested in the waste audit. Thank you so much!