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On January 28th, Clark County Green Schools launched our third milk dispenser pilot project at Evergreen Public School's Columbia Valley Elementary! Funded through the Washington State Department of Ecology's Local Solid Waste Financial Assistance program, Columbia Valley's new dispenser and washable cups will help reduce their cafeteria waste.
Collaboration and teamwork have been essential to the success of this project. The principal, nutrition services manager, kitchen staff, custodian and students all worked together to ensure a smooth implementation of the dispenser.
When asked why she decided to participate in a project like this, principal Leah Torres responded, "It was really the students. We have a very active Green Team here at Columbia Valley, and they convinced us that this would be a good way for us to start reducing our waste at the school." Members of the Green Team volunteered to show their peers and the younger students how to use the milk dispenser during the first week. Building a culture of environmental stewardship is important to the students at Columbia Valley. As one 5th grader said, "I like helping the little kids because we are moving on to 6th grade next year and if they join the Green Team then they can do what we are doing and help the other younger kids."
"I joined the Green Team because I like to help out the world. It is fun and you get to do cool little projects!"5th grade student
As part of the pilot project, waste audits are conducted before and after the dispenser is installed. An audit captures a snapshot of the amount of waste, recycling and compost produced in one day, providing a baseline to measure the impact after an environmental project has begun. In the first week, Columbia Valley has already seen milk waste drop by about 66%. Many students who take a carton of milk don't drink it all, and some don't even open their milk. Hossein Akhtarkhavari, the resident district manager for Evergreen's food service company Chartwells, shared his support by explaining that his goals for the project are to, "reduce waste in the cafeteria and to reduce our carbon footprint".
Washougal School District's Gause Elementary will be the next school to receive a milk dispenser. We are excited to have more schools involved in this pilot project!