We've received lots of exciting updates from our schools in the past weeks, and we are excited to share Hulstrom K-8's recent progress and Earth Day projects as our featured school this April!
Hulstrom K-8 Green Team
Earth Day Plastic Bottle Planters
The Hulstrom K-8 Green Team has been wracking their brains trying to figure out a fun, hands on activity to get their fellow students interested in composting, reusing and recycling. Historically the green team has seen lots of plastic bottles in the garbage, and they've been feeling disappointed in how few students are recycling and composting correctly even after their many attempts to spread awareness and education through student assemblies, announcements and signs. Their solution: reuse and repurpose those water bottles as planters for an earth day celebration project. Their cafeteria composts their food waste, and this allowed them to use compost as soil for their water bottle planters, teaching their peers what the compost is, becomes, and how it can be used. The green team students emailed or personally asked all of their k-5 teachers to see if they would be interested in doing the activity with their students. Most of the teachers said yes!
Students prep seeds for Earth Day planters
The team bought inexpensive greenhouse planters for each classroom so the students could grow their own plants from seeds, again with the support from each teacher. Those seedlings were transplanted into their plastic water bottles the week of Earth Day. Serendipitously, the fruition of their activity coincided with Earth Day on April 22nd! The Green Team led each classroom in helping students with their bottle planters while promoting the importance of recycling, reusing and composting in school and at home.
Earth Day Zero Waste Lunch & Poster Contest
The Hulstrom K-8 Green Team also promoted a trash free lunch day on Earth Day. Our students reached out to the staff to receive assistance in sharing the Green Team's information and tips with their peers, and also promoted it on morning announcements. Zero waste lunches are composed of all reusable snack bags, lunch bags, etc. The Green Team students also ran an Earth Day poster contest and offered $10 gift cards as prizes to get students interested and inspired in sustainability.
Recycling & Composting
To promote proper recycling and composting in the cafeteria after very disappointing results first semester, the Green Team thought about what might make their efforts more successful. The Green Team's original plan was to make posters that were taped to each bin at the beginning of the school year. These posters were made up of student drawings and were meant to help students sort. However, our Green Team determined that the other students were running through the waste line to get out to recess, and were throwing their trash into whatever bin was fastest.
To combat this issue, the Hulstrom K-8 Green Team made large 3D poster boards of actual lunch room waste and recycling items by hot gluing them to the posters. The posters were hung over their perspective bins in the cafeteria and are more realistic visuals. They hope this will make it fast and easy for students to find the right bin as they run out the door!
The Green Team hopes to see better results this semester and moving forward throughout their next year in the program. (Check back for an update next year!) Way to get creative green team!
The student Green Team was asked by Hulstrom K-8's PTA to present at their monthly meeting. Each of the 11 student Green Team members presented for 2 minutes on their own attempts, disappointments and initiatives for greening up Hulstrom. Their principal, who is very supportive of the Green Team, chimed in with green initiatives she'd like to see in the short and long term. The PTA members were very supportive.
Students present to the Hulstrom K-8 PTA
They asked a lot of questions and said they would help by adding Green Team blurbs to their monthly and weekly newsletters to all Hulstrom K-8 parents. They recommended starting simple to inform parents that Hulstrom K-8 recycles and composts. Many parents don't know Hulstrom recycles and composts, let alone that it's an expectation. Blurbs will include basic facts on how long it takes plastic and metal to decompose, short recycling videos to share with their kids, and Green Team updates and incentives. It will give the Green Team direct access to Hulstrom K-8 parents on a consistent basis which is invaluable for their efforts to green up their community.
Hulstrom K-8 has recycled 4.1 tons of waste and composted 1.5 tons since July of last year (through February 2018)!! Their current waste diversion rate is 10.3 %, up from 9.0%. Thank you Hulstrom Green Team! It's all due to your efforts! Keep up the good work!