Apple cores. Yesterday’s homework. Plastic bottles and juice boxes. Extra copies of handouts. Sandwich bags.
More than 11,000 students and hundreds of staff members can generate a lot of trash. Here in Carlsbad we believe we are educating the environmental stewards of the future — so we are striving to practice on campus the sustainable behaviors we teach in our classrooms.
In Spring 2016, Carlsbad elementary schools received a $29,000 grant from the Carlsbad Charitable Foundation for the “Recycling Education and Infrastructure for Carlsbad Schools” project. At that time we piloted new programs, such as “twinning” trash receptacles (one regular and one recycle) in classrooms; campus Green Teams; lunch sorting stations; and “tap ’n’ stack” lunch trays, which could then be up-cycled.
Since then we have continued to take a deeper look at recycling and sustainability, district wide.
We are now in a partnership with the City of Carlsbad, which received a grant to help us evaluate and expand our recycling practices. California law AB341 – Mandatory Commercial Recycling— requires cities to work with large commercial enterprises to improve their recycling practices and decrease the amount of trash sent to landfills. Funded by the city’s grant, an environmental/recycling consultant has completed an audit of the recycling habits at all nine of our elementary schools, and has made recommendations for improvements. The city is also helping us buy blue recycling bins for classrooms and provide training for our custodial staff, who are on the front lines when it comes to recycling. Further, the city is working with I Love a Clean San Diego to provide recycling awareness assemblies for our students. Moving forward, we hope to expand this effort to our middle and high schools.
“The city’s recycling team is excited to collaborate with CUSD to improve its recycling programs,” said Avecita Jones, Management Analyst, Environmental Management, for the City of Carlsbad. “We envision many opportunities for the city and CUSD to work together.”
Carlsbad Unified is also finalizing a recycling contract with Urban Corps of San Diego County. Urban Corps will install beverage container recycling bins on each of our elementary campuses, recycle the containers for deposit refunds, and then return the profits to the schools.
In addition, Carlsbad High School’s Green Team and Student Services Specialist Rosemary Eshelman worked with surfer Rob Machado’s foundation to secure funding for water bottle refilling stations at Carlsbad High School and Carlsbad Village Academy, cutting down on disposable water bottles on campus. We also received an additional grant that will help us to install water bottle filling stations at our elementary schools.
Because we believe in teaching students responsible behaviors, environmental and sustainability issues have long been integrated into CUSD’s curriculum, and many of our schools have taken the lead in community recycling efforts. But a robust and consistent recycling plan takes everyone working together to build capacity and keep up the momentum at the school sites.
Whether its Nutrition Services, or Maintenance and Operations, staff members working in the offices, or students having lunch, we must all commit to developing a culture where recycling is the norm. At Carlsbad Unified we are educating our students so that they develop positive recycling habits for life.
***If you are interested in learning more about how your business can become sustainable, please visit the Green Business Committee page.