One of the great joys in working with schools is being lucky enough to see students and teachers make changes for the better in their educational institution. The EarthWays Sustainability Network (ESN) is one of those rare opportunities. Each year, EarthWays works with teachers who are sustainability champions at different schools. These teachers and their students focus on waste reduction projects to lower the amount of waste they are sending to the landfill. This year our sustainability champions, pictured below, are:
- Brandi McKenna from Brown Elementary in Hazelwood
- Cathy Chamberlain from Captain Elementary in Clayton
- Liz Rich and Michael Jobst from Long Elementary in Lindbergh
- Laura Watson from Meramec Elementary in St. Louis City
All of our schools begin with a waste audit. This gives students the opportunity to sort and weigh each type of waste created in their classrooms or cafeteria. For many students, this is the first time they are seeing both in volume and numbers how much waste is being created in their school. Teachers will guide their students in developing a project to divert some of the waste from the landfill. Projects in the past have included starting cafeteria recycling or food waste compost programs, creating educational campaigns, creatively reusing trash, and examining plastic use in the homes of students.
Our current cohort just finished their waste audits in October. Now teachers and students are planning next steps based on their waste audits. We don’t know what projects will develop, but we are looking forward to see how these teachers and students will make a sustainable difference in their school community. Follow our schools and learn more about ESN by clicking here.