Clark County Green Schools was approached by Our Lady of Lourdes last fall. They wanted to find out how they could become more environmentally conscious. We were pleased to meet with them to come up with a plan. We started by pulling together a group of people who were interested in making these changes. That group included the principal, custodian, a few teachers and active parents. They shared what their goals were, and listened to the ideas we had for ways they could improve. They already had a passion for the environment and our meeting gave them focus and a roadmap to move forward with their vision. This first meeting was critical to their success. It pulled together many of the people necessary to make the changes and got everyone on the same page.
Our Lady of Lourdes wanted to work towards Washington Green Schools environmental certification. We first looked at Waste and Recycling and put together a massive waste audit assembly involving many children. The results of that waste audit gave them a vision for what projects they would implement. A few very active and enthusiastic parents started an after school green team which blossomed to over 40 students!
"Our waste and recycling focused goal for the 2016-2017 school year is to clarify and improve our recycling habits in order to reduce our garbage output, reduce our carbon footprint, and save our school money. In our audit, we discovered that 50% of our garbage could be recycled. We would like to try to reduce this figure to only 25% contamination by the end of the school year."
"We determined that the best plan of attack would be to design, present, and implement a Litterless Lunch campaign within our school and to start composting."Our Lady of Lourdes Green Team
Some of the students brainstormed some easy helpful tips that were included in a beautiful flyer made by a parent volunteer. The flier went out to all school families outlining the Litterless Lunch campaign and simple steps they could do to reduce lunch waste.
The Green Team also put together a 10-minute slideshow and Q&A that was presented to each class by the Green Team members within. They were so proud of their work and new knowledge!
The green team and Mr. Askman are continually making improvements in their recycling practices to make progress in that area on a regular basis.
Compost bins were donated to the green team and they will begin composting in the fall.
Their results were astounding! As they reduced their waste by educating the community on what could be recycled or composted, they were able to reduce the frequency of their garbage pick-up and save $5,000 per year on their garbage bill! They achieved certification from Washington Green Schools in Waste and Recycling for their hard work.
The Our Lady of Lourdes community collected nearly 900 pounds of plastic film and wrap in the TREX Challenge! That earned them second place in the county wide contest with an average of 3.3 pounds per student collected. They received a TREX bench for their playground area and got a visit from Bagzilla during the bench unveiling ceremony. They worked to raise awareness that plastic bags and wrap can be recycled, not in the blue recycle cart but by taking it back to the grocery store.
We decided to take a deeper look at our current water consumption, waste, and overall practice with an emphasis on education and change.
The current 7th Grade class read a book entitled, "A Long Walk to Water" last year that stirred a passion about water issues around the globe. Not wanting this new zeal to go to waste, they partnered with several teachers and our school maintenance director, Randy Askman, to engage in a "Water Awareness Project." The Green Team committed to participating at various levels.
We soon identified 10 storm drains that were not labeled and had been used to dump classroom paint and other water waste. We also learned that the water fountains were not being used due to poor taste/quality of water, and that several of them were running/leaking. Our last water quality test had been conducted in 2014, and while we passed, we knew we could do more to provide an enjoyable and more economic resource for students.
We decided to replace the current water fountains with new ones, educate the school community about storm drain pollution, and have the 7th Grade students create a water-related education seminar for our school and larger community - Knowing that more goals would come from their research and findings.
Our custodial staff replaced all four of our current water fountains with higher efficiency, filtered, water bottle refill stations. The students were absolutely thrilled! The water tastes much better, and we see fewer disposable water bottles on campus. We also hope this will affect our overall water consumption as these fountains don't leak/continue to run. That said, more students are using them now than they did the old ones.
On May 18th, our 7th Grade students delivered a well-researched education seminar entitled, "Every Drop Counts" to our school and larger community. The event included presentations, dialogue, and interactive learning activities surrounding local and global water issues. Students shared about both home and school water consumption, waste, and ways we can change current behavior.
Our city Mayor, a representative from the Senator's office, as well as Ellen Ives from Clark County Waste Connections were also in attendance. Parents and members of the community attended the evening session, while Middle School students engaged in an at-school version of the event. Students even presented a modified version to our Kindergarten class.
While the Green Team and 7th Grade students were researching school water used, we were shocked to discover what we spend on water consumption and disposal. We decided to educate students about their water use while washing hands. Green Team members created poster reminders that were placed by the sinks in all of our bathrooms. They also wrote and presented a morning announcement, while the 7th Grade students mentioned this new initiative in the community and school presentation.
Our Lady of Lourdes achieved their second certification from Washington Green Schools in Water. It's usual for a school to certify in more than one category in a year, and often not encouraged, but this group had the tenacity and follow through to pull it off!
"Catalyst, connector and cheerleader, the Clark County Green Schools and Washington Green Schools organizations remains some of our most cherished resources as Our Lady of Lourdes works to instill lasting environmental change on our school campus. With their help, we were able to achieve our goals in recycling more, reducing trash and conserving water. The process saved thousands of dollars a year for our parish, which now can go toward other good works, plus enabled our students to become better environmental stewards while honing their leadership and decision-making skills."Ali, Green Team leader and parent
"It has been unbelievable the amount of support, energy, and talent the Clark County Green Schools and Waste Connections team has brought to Our Lady of Lourdes. They have opened many eyes of our students, parents, staff and parishioners of what we can do as a community to recycle and dispose of our waste products.Randy, custodian
I personally cannot thank you enough.
We are truly blessed.
Thank you. "