By Natalie Swarts, La Mariposa PTA Growing Green Coordinator
La Mariposa received a $500 grant from Amgen to support the launch of Eco-Schools on our campus. Eco-Schools is an international program that provides a framework to help educators integrate sustainable principles throughout their schools and curriculum. The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) leads the U.S. Eco-Schools Program. Through a school-based team of students, administrators, educators and community volunteers, Eco-Schools combines effective “greening” of the school grounds, the facilities and the curriculum. The Program encourages students to take an active role in learning about and taking action in their school community. We have also been awarded a $500 grant from the Wrigley Foundation Litter Less Campaign.
Research has shown that students of all economic, racial and cultural backgrounds that are engaged in hands-on and real world aspects of environmental education have an increased desire to learn and perform better on most measures of student success. The Eco-Schools Program aims to help educators engage students in mathematics, reading, science, and critical thinking.
NWF has identified the following areas of primary focus or “pathways” to help schools become an Eco-School: Energy, Water, Climate Change, Global Dimensions, Transportation, School Grounds, Consumption and Waste, Healthy Living, Healthy Schools, Biodiversity, and Sustainable Food.
Eco Schools & La Mariposa
La Mariposa chose the Consumption and Waste Pathway as our first area of focus. Consumption refers to all the resources we purchase, wear, use, eat, drink, and otherwise surround ourselves with. At the end of this cycle is waste, the things we dispose of because they are left over, worn out, used up, or not needed. Waste is a great place to start when working on environmental issues with students, because it is visible and it is easy to see the improvements.
To achieve the Consumption and Waste Pathway, we will do the following:
- Reduce: Change manufacturing processes and buying habits to use less material and generate less waste.
- Reuse: Choose goods and products that can be used again.
- Recycle: Process used materials into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials.
Students are encouraged to bring reusable items to school whenever possible. Several single use products are eligible for recycling through Terracycle. We currently collect empty drink pouches and granola bar wrappers during lunch. Within the next month, collection bins will be added for Lunchable containers and chip bags. The Eco-Schools Team will be responsible for collecting, sorting and shipping the recyclables to Terracycle for redemption. Parent volunteers will deliver plastic recyclables collected on-campus to Camarillo Recycling Inc. Traditional composting and vermicomposting will be part of our waste reduction efforts.
Benefits of the Eco-Schools Program
- Improves academic performance, especially in science and math
- Leads to financial savings
- Decreases the school’s carbon footprint
- Reduces school waste and conserves natural resources
- Encourages student environmental awareness and stewardship
- Increases parental involvement
- Helps students and teachers develop stronger relationships with their communities
- Develops national and international links
Interested in learning more about how you and your student can participate in the Eco-Schools Program at La Mariposa? Please contact Natalie.