Laird School Announces Mission to Become AZ’s First Zero Waste School
Promoting sustainability has become more important than ever before. With the redesign of their school’s campus, Laird School has become a leader of this initiative from the very start of the 2016-2017 school year.
Laird has increased their campus’ energy efficiency thanks to design principles, such as including more windows to decrease energy needed for lighting and more shade structures to decrease air conditioning use. The upgraded school building has inspired a sense of purpose for staff and students alike to join in on the mission to help benefit our earth.
Recently, Laird teachers, staff, and students announced their commitment to extend their sustainable practices by signing an agreement to begin composting and recycling waste throughout their school to ultimately achieve “zero waste”. This agreement was all made possible through the Laird Green Team, a student club which began this school year.
“The students are really the ones in charge,” said PACE Teacher Ellen Miller, who also oversees the student club. “The Green Team meets regularly and sets out the overarching goal for our school to be the first in Arizona to achieve zero waste.”
Zero waste is a philosophy and design principle that encourages the practice of all products being reused. This entails that no trash is sent to landfills or incinerators. This process is similar to the way resources are reused in nature.
The Green Team hosted an assembly which invited all students and staff to learn more about how the school can help achieve their goal of zero waste. The club invited Circle Blue, a Tempe-based organization dedicated to educating organizations to achieve zero waste, to speak to the school about how taking small steps can make a huge difference!
“In order for Laird to get to zero waste, we need everyone in this school to help,” explained Circle Blue’s Chief Sustainability Officer Daniel Velez.
With the help of the Green Team, Velez showed examples of how Laird can achieve zero waste by explaining what can be recycled and what can be composted. The students helped Velez by providing a demonstration of how to properly dispose their food and eating materials after lunch. All food waste, paper towels, and biodegradable food containers may be composted in the green organics bin, while the plastic utensils, water bottles, and styrofoam (if it does not contain food grease) can be recycled in the blue recycling bin.
“It’s really quite easy once we build a habit of it,” exclaimed one Green Team member.
After the demonstration, Laird’s Green Team invited every Laird teacher to sign a school agreement to achieve zero waste. Students cheered enthusiastically as each teacher from every grade-level stepped forward to sign the poster which will be hung in a school hallway.
Thanks to a generous donation from the Solid Wastes and Recycling Services Section of City of Tempe’s Public Works program, every classroom has been given a green composting bin, which will encourage a daily effort to compost. Every day, teachers will select two students to bring their classroom bins down to the larger bins which will be collected on a biweekly basis from local composting company Recycled City.
When asked about the best part of being involved in the Green Team club, Fifth-Grader Erin Conkey explains that they get the chance to make a difference to their environment.
“I think it’s really great that we get to help our whole school get on board with recycling and reusing,” said Conkey. “We are all helping to reduce our trash footprint and keep our earth healthy.”
For updates on the Laird Green Team, be sure to follow their Instagram page at @lairdgreenteam.