The EarthWays Sustainability Network (ESN) is a year-long teacher professional development program the serves to provide waste and recycling support to educators throughout the St. Louis community. This network of trained educators is dedicated to learning more about waste, waste reduction, and recycling, takes a leadership role in their school's efforts to reduce waste, and provides peer support and guidance to other educators.

ESN teachers train with EarthWays Center education staff for a year - learning about solid waste issues, discovering ways to reduce waste in their school, and implementing new projects to reduce waste and increase recycling rates in the community. Each ESN teacher advises a school Green Team, involving students in solutions to school waste issues.

It is our belief that schools, including teachers and students have an enormous capacity to make a difference in our community. The ESN program prepares teachers to be leaders in empowering their students to take action and solve real-world problems. This program serves to provide knowledge and resources for both students and teachers and to help schools better achieve waste reduction goals. As young learners, students form the knowledge-base and values system that gets carried into their adult lives. These values and judgments impact students’ relationship to the environment and their community as they become active, engaged citizens.

Special thanks to the St. Louis County Department of Public Health for funding the ESN pilot year through their Recycling/Waste Grant program utilizing County landfill surcharge funds. Continued funding for the program is supported by the St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.




EarthWays Sustainability Network Teachers

Are you interested in improving school sustainability? Join the 2023–24 EarthWays Sustainability Network Cohort!

ESN teachers train with EarthWays Center staff for a year learning about solid waste issues, discovering ways to reduce waste in their school, and implementing new projects to reduce waste and increase recycling rates in the community. 

In this program, teachers and schools receive:

  • One-on-one support from EarthWays staff
  • Support of fellow cohort members
  • Professional development workshop
  • Stipend to purchase materials for waste reduction project
  • Preferential scheduling for outreach programs, field trip scholarships, and STEM Nights

ESN teachers are expected to:

  • Submit a signed letter of commitment 
  • Deliver pre-project assessment and evaluation surveys to students  
  • Coordinate a pre and post waste audit of the school 
  • Develop one classroom lesson or activity related to waste topics 
  • Form a Green Team and coordinate regular meetings 
  • Identify one project or initiative in their school  
  • Participate in two one-on-one check-in meetings  
  • Participate in two cohort meetings to collaborate with other ESN teachers 
  • Document project activity including photos, student comments, etc.
  • Submit a final case study of their project 

EarthWays staff is accepting new schools into the network for the 2023-24 school year. To be eligible for the network, schools must be located in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, or Jefferson County. This program is flexible with all virtual learning, school social distancing, and health regulations. The staff at EarthWays understands that this year is different and will support projects that make sense for your school's situation from having students examine their waste at home to making changes in how your school recycles.

If you would like to receive more information about participating in ESN, please fill out the application or contact Maggie directly at

ESN 2023–24 Application

Need inspiration for your project? Read about projects from other cohorts in our case studies.