Green Steps Schools is an environmental education initiative that encourages individual schools in South Carolina to take annual sustainable steps toward becoming more environmentally responsible. Our student Green Team is taking the lead on implementing our Green Steps program. Here at AJW, we will be taking many Green Steps, including:
- Recycling: We recycle paper (mixed paper, mail, and cardboard), cans, and plastic bottles. Each class participates in a special educational program at the beginning of the year to learn what can and can’t be recycled at AJW and about the importance of recycling. Throughout the school year, the second grade green team collects recycling from classrooms and offices every Thursday.
- The Race to No Waste: The “Race to No Waste” is an ongoing waste reduction initiative that encourages waste reduction beyond recycling. Classes compete against each other to use less, reuse in creative ways, and recycle. Mini-challenges throughout the year encourage waste reduction and innovation by asking students to come up with new ideas for reducing waste, creating educational materials to encourage waste reduction, reuse items in creative ways, and more.
- Green Craft Challenge: The Green Craft Challenge is a program developed by Livability Educator, Jaclin DuRant, and AJW Librarian, Amanda Leblanc that focuses on waste reduction through innovative reuse and crafting. Green Craft Challenge classes are offered as part of AJW’s Extended Day Program. Recycled art work and crafts are displayed in the library and throughout the school. Monthly green crafts are done in afterschool, and video tutorials are available on the Library’s YouTube channel so that parents, friends, and others can follow along and enjoy their own green crafts at home.
Organic Garden: AJW has partnered with Gardening for Good, a local nonprofit organization, to help create and maintain an urban garden. In the garden, students learn about plant lifecycles, where food comes from, and much more. AJ’s garden is filled with unique features that make it an exciting outdoor classroom for the students.
Features of the garden include:
- A native plant butterfly bed that attracts pollinators and beneficial insects and provides a place for students to observe native perennial plants.
- A life sized sundial, built by a local eagle scout.
- Organic raised beds planted and harvested by students.
- A rock bed swale and small pond that helps reduce storm water runoff by allowing slow infiltration of rainwater into the garden and provides a habitat for frogs and other aquatic life.
- Fruit trees that were planted with the help of Trees Greenville.
- Rain Barrels: Two rain barrels, decorated by the fourth grade green team, collect water from the roof of the recycled greenhouse. Rain water collection helps to protect water quality by reducing storm water runoff during and following rain events and allowing water to infiltrate the ground slowly. Rain barrels also help to conserve water by using the collected water for plants during dry periods instead of water from a faucet.
- Composting: Our 1st grade students research compost and explore how to reduce school classroom and kitchen waste. Students collected classroom compostable materials such as shredded paper towels and pencil shavings as “browns” to go with the “green” kitchen and cafeteria food scraps. There are two compost bins in the garden - a continual feed bin composter and a batch compost tumbler.
- Breathe Better Air: The third Grade green team runs our Breathe Better Program which consists of twice yearly surveys of vehicles in the car line to count the number of cars and buses that are idling, and an anti-idling campaign run by the students to encourage people to turn their cars off if they will be sitting for more than 2 minutes.
- Vehicle exhaust is the leading source of toxic air pollution.
- Idling consumes 1/2 to 1 gallon of fuel per hour and wastes more fuel than turning off and on your vehicle.
- It is more efficient to turn off most warmed up vehicles than to idle for more than 30 seconds.
- A single vehicle dropping off and picking up a child at one school puts 3 pounds of pollution into the air per month
- Water conservation and protection: The fourth grade green team visits Greenville’s watershed to learn about where our water comes from, what makes Greenville’s water unique, and the importance of conserving and maintaining a quality water supply. Green Team students then create digital presentations on what they have learned and share their knowledge class-to-class across the school.