Eco-Schools USA

In the winter and spring of 2015, a group of 4th and 5th graders from The Philadelphia School came together as part of their community service requirement. These children all had an interest in the environment and decided to call themselves “The Green Ambassadors.”

The Green Ambassadors met once a month during their lunch/recess hour and, with the guidance of staff and parents, decided to use the framework and tools of the Eco-Schools USA Program, administered by the National Wildlife Federation. For their initial project, they chose to start with the waste and consumption pathway to sustainability. The school had just begun to put new, clearly-marked resource recovery bins in several areas throughout the school. The Green Ambassadors—having noticed juice boxes and uneaten sandwiches in trash rather than recycling or compost—knew that the school community needed guidance about sorting and recovery resources properly.

The Green Ambassadors wrote and sang a song for the whole school called "All About Those Bins" (to the tune of "All About that Bass"). For this performance they called themselves "The Compostables" and wore matching green shirts. Their catchy rendition of the song could be heard echoed by many students throughout the halls for weeks afterward. 

For their next act, the Green Ambassadors created short skits that they performed in each classroom (grades 1-8). The synopsis: One student standing in front of the new bins trying to decide how to sort what was left in her lunchbox. The bins were props of the new compost, recycling, and trash bins with a Green Ambassador hiding behind it. If the student tossed an item into the wrong bin, it would spit it back out and tell her where it belongs. The props included items typically found in the wrong bin at TPS. The end of the skit included information about other items that are recycled at TPS such as chip bags and granola bar wrappers for Terracycle or used markers.

Performing these skits helped give the Student Ambassadors a greater sense of responsibility, knowledge, and confidence about improving their school's resource recovery.

An audit of TPS's resource recovery bins was made in 2014, and then again after the school-wide presentations in 2015. Although not purely a scientific study, the TPS community showed improvement in knowing what goes where! And while there is still some room for improvement, TPS is well on its way to becoming a zero-waste school, with just under 12% of bin contents being sent to the landfill.

"The Green Ambassadors" student team will be starting up again in January 2016 as part of the community service program. Students in grades 4-6 are encouraged to sign up to be a part of this fun and exciting group! It is a great way to work together to help protect both people and planet!

For more information about the Green Ambassadors, contact the TPSA Green & Healthy Team.

For more information about the Eco-Schools USA Program go to http://www.nwf.org/Eco-Schools-USA.aspx