There is a tremendous amount of waste generated in the average school. Eco-School parents are making sure their schools are NOT average! With the help of the adult green team and Portland Public School’s AmeriCorp volunteer, students at Forest Park Elementary conducted a waste audit that showed the bulk of their waste was Styrofoam trays, food and food packaging, and paper towels in the bathroom.

Needing 300 trays for the lunchroom, 90 were paid for by a grant from Metro and the green team raised funds for the rest, including $250 each from the PTA and the principal. 25 volunteers were recruited to wash the trays, two each day. They are now fundraising at school events to replace the “sporks” with durable silverware. To address the issue of food packaging they are educating the staff and students about waste-free lunch options with a big hallway display and have a waste-free lunch Wednesday once per month. To encourage participation they hold a raffle and give away lunch boxes and water bottles.

Samantha has applied for a grant to install a hand dryer as a pilot project to tackle the paper towel waste, as well as a compost bin for food waste. The green team added more bins and signs throughout the school to improve recycling. During Earth Week a competition was held among the classrooms to see who had the least trash. The winner at each grade level received a trophy made of recycled materials by students. Because of Samantha’s energy the whole community is thinking more about the waste they create and taking steps towards sustainability!


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