Students take action to reduce their school’s environmental impacts

Berkeley residents successfully divert about 76% of their waste away from the landfill; however, Berkeley schools only divert between 20-54%. Now there are new efforts to reduce BUSD schools’ waste even more by getting students and others in our schools involved.

Through a partnership with the local non-profit Green Schools Initiative to reduce our schools’ environmental footprint and improve recycling and composting, the Green Star Schools Program is being launched in eight Berkeley Public Schools with the help of two small grants from the Altamont Education Advisory Board and the Clif Bar Family Foundation.  The program is modeled after the successful pilot project at Rosa Parks Elementary two years ago. The other schools are Berkeley Arts Magnet, Jefferson, John Muir, Oxford and Washington Elementary Schools, King Middle School and Berkeley High School.

The Green Star Schools goals are to:

  • Increase the rate of diverting waste from schools away from landfills,
  • Save money for schools by reducing hauling fees, and
  • Engage students, teachers, parents, and staff in taking action to reduce the environmental footprint of their school.

Rosa Parks students conduct a campus-wide waste audit.

Participating schools are off to a great start having formed “Green Teams” composed of teachers, principals, parents, students, and custodians. Green Teams conduct waste audits, improve signage, and educate their schools about waste reduction through assemblies, skits, and posters.

After Winter Break, each school Green Team will be launching new signs and bins with funds from the mini-grants sponsored by the Altamont Education Advisory Board and Green Schools Initiative. Green Teams will also be carrying out their individual action plans, which will include constructing and painting large, colorful and attention-getting recycling character signs for elementary school cafeterias, such as the ones at Rosa Parks Elementary, or creating worm bins in the school garden.

If you are interested in getting more involved in the Green Stars School Program and your school’s Green Team, contact the school principal.

For more information about the program or Green Schools Initiative, visit or contact Executive Director Deborah Moore at Stay tuned for new signs and systems in participating schools.

You can participate just by practicing the 4 R’s every day at home and school: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover

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