County Executive Dow Constantine announced April 14 that the is recognized as a "Green Schools" district, after most local schools demonstrated dramatic reductions in the amount of waste they create.
The recognition was made at a County "Earth Hero at School" award ceremony on Mercer Island, highlighting individual and schoolwide-efforts to promote environmental stewardship in local schools.
"Each andevery awardee has set an outstanding example on behalf of our environment," Constantine said.
Local resident , science teacher Jamie Cooke and were all recognized for the part they played in taking a leadership role in promoting environmentalism in Mercer Island Schools.
"We took steps that were instrumental in moving toward green practices in the school and systemwide in the district," said Island Park Elementary Principal Dr. Nancy Loorem. "We started composting in our lunchroom in 2007 from a decision made in working with our student council, started using Cedar Grove Composting (an regionally-based waste management company). Now the entire district uses Cedar Grove. Everything we've done, we've always involved the children."
The district-wide recognition was made possible thanks to several Island schools recently earning the designation individually over the past few years. Island Park Elementary, which was the first school on the Island to implement lunchroom composting in 2007, also uses classroom worm bins to compost leftover food scraps from snacks and tends a much-loved program.
West Mercer elementary now recycles 63 percent of all waste and the school's lunchroom decreased its landfill contribution from lunch by almost 90 percent with about 70 pounds per week going to the landfill. Cedar Grove Composting collects about 350 pounds of compostable material each week.
And Lakeridge Elementary has achieved a 75 percent recycling rate, with only 85 pounds of trash in the lunchroom per week (down from over 700 pounds per week).