St. Louis Public Schools' Carver Elementary Excels with a Focus on Waste Reduction

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The EarthWays Sustainability Network (ESN) is a year-long teacher leadership program supported by the Jefferson-St. Louis Solid Waste Management District, aimed at giving teachers from four schools throughout St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and Jefferson County the tools to empower their students to be agents of change, especially when it comes to reducing the amount of stuff that winds up in the landfill.

As part of the Network, Carver's lead ESN teacher, Art Teacher, Britt Tate-Beaugard went through training on sustainability and understanding waste with EarthWays staff before the school year began, and EarthWays will provide lessons, equipment, and knowledge to help each school figure out what's getting thrown away. In September, Britt assembled Carver's Green Team Dream Team, made up of 18 2nd through 5th graders, and with help from EarthWays Education Coordinator, Simon Warren, conducted a waste audit on a representative sample of one day's trash. 

After the waste audit, the Green Team Dream Team measured that 19.4 pounds of food and wet waste were being thrown away, as well as 7.5 pounds of paper, and 7.1 pounds of film and foam plastic, mainly in the form of styrofoam plates from lunch. Students also found lots of markers and pencils, many of which just needed a good sharpening and could be used again.

Armed with this knowledge, the Carver Green Team Dream has sprung into action! Student recycles plastic bag in Trex container

Britt says:

"Thus far this school year we have started an all school recycling initiative, where three days a week three members of the Green Team collect and dump the recycling from every bin in the building. We have started the slow process of sorting out our recyclables from the breakfast and lunch trash. Trex sent us three collection bins for the Trex Plastic challenge (to help collect and recycle plastic bags.) Members of the Green Team will be doing a presentation on what can go in Trex bins and we are designing a flyer to go home to all families. We have applied for the Green Schools Quest, hoping to reduce our waste by 40% by April. I recently met with St. Louis Composting and got a quote for compost collection, and we are meeting this week to brain storm a way to raise money to cover that monthly fee of $150. We also mailed Crayola 488 dried up markers from last school year. I saved them from last year and we counted them and shipped them off! 

So far things are moving along at Carver! We have also planted our newest seedlings from Gateway Greening and are looking into preparing our beds for the upcoming seasons."

Green Team members are very excited and are already coming up with solutions:

"Ms Tate we are throwing away too much food. We need to give that food to the homeless." Cameron, 5th Grade
"Ms Tate, what else can we recycle!!!!!" Tanja, 2nd Grade
"It's cool, I'll teach the little kids how to recycle." Jamaury, 5th Grade   

Stay tuned for updates on the Carver Green Team, and for more news from all of the EarthWays Sustainability Network schools. For information on how EarthWays can assist your school or university click here.

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