EarthWays Sustainability Network

What is the EarthWays Sustainability Network?

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

The 2019-20 EarthWays Sustainability Network Teachers have projects in progress!

Starting in the Fall of 2019, the fourth cohort of EarthWays Sustainability Network teachers began meeting. ESN will bring together K-12 teachers from 4 schools in St. Louis City and County, St. Charles County, and Jefferson County to develop, implement, and evaluate sustainability curriculum and action in their classrooms and schools. 

All of the teachers will work together and with EarthWays Center staff to start a Green Team at their school, conduct waste audits at the beginning and end of the program to monitor success, and receive coaching throughout the year to support school waste reduction efforts and initiatives.

Our teachers this year are from Brown Elementary in Hazelwood, Captain Elementary in Clayton, Long Elementary in Lindbergh, and Meramec Elementary in St. Louis City.

The 2018-19 cohort of ESN teachers finished the school year in the spring having made significant progress towards their school sustainability goals. Need inspiration for your project? Read about their projects, plus projects from other cohorts, in our case studies.

2018-19 ESN Case Study

2017-18 ESN Case Study

2016-17 ESN Case Study

ESN Teachers: 
  • Attend a one-day workshop on waste
  • 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
  • Receive a supply stipend for recycling and waste related project materials
  • 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
Recycling Resources

ESN Teacher Resource Guide

St. Louis County Department of Public Health - Recycling and Waste Management 

Free K-12 programs, workshops, and school resources to support solid waste reduction and diversion practices such as composting and recycling to public and private schools in St. Louis County. 

Brightside - St. Louis City Recycles

Classroom presentations and recycling bins to schools in St. Louis city 

Missouri Recycling Association 

No matter what your recycling goals may be, MORA can help you reach them! Resources for K-12 schools and educators

St. Louis Composting/ Total Organics

Regional commercial compost company; offers tours of site and more! 


Year-round programming focused on waste reduction including: Recycling On the Go and Green Dining Alliance.