Boulder Valley School District

10 things kids can do to make their school more sustainable

Elementary Kids with Reusable Utensils
Randy Barber

Recently, the Eisenhower Elementary School Eco Eagles Green Team was asked to speak at the Board of Education meeting, as part of the Student Moment, an opportunity to recognize student leadership in the Boulder Valley School District. 

Representatives from the group shared the outstanding progress they’ve made in implementing sustainability practices and their efforts can serve as an exemplar for other students throughout the district.

WATCH: April 9, 2024 Board of Education Meeting - Student Moment




Start and grow your own Eco Team

There is no question – students are behind the sustainability successes at Eisenhower.

“I’m so proud of these kids,” said Marti Hirsch, Eisenhower Elementary’s library paraprofessional, who also serves as the adult leader of the school’s green team. “They are so dedicated. They’ve done so much to make sustainability part of Eisenhower Elementary’s school culture.”

The club started 10 years ago with only six kids.

“Now we have 27 enthusiastic students, and we have more wanting to join every single day,” 

The students, who range from first to fifth grade, have a lot of reasons why they love being part of the team.

“Being on the Eco Eagles Green Team is a wonderful way to meet and make friends and to make an impact on our school community,” said Eisenhower fifth grader Lily Bradshaw.





Advocate for sustainability

As you might imagine, a big part of the Eco Eagles’ work is to educate students, staff, families and other members of the Eisenhower community about sustainability and the difference they can make. 

“We are called ambassadors because we advocate for their schools sustainability efforts,” explained Bradshaw.

At Eisenhower, the group uses a variety of communication avenues, including the school’s daily announcements, posters and bulletin boards to get the word out.





Design a sustainability poster contest

Kids (inside and outside of the green team) love to be creative, and an easy way for them to get involved in promoting the sustainability message is by encouraging them to create their own posters.

“We design and run our own poster contest. We decide on a theme, judging criteria and eco-friendly prizes,” Bradshaw shared.

The posters can be displayed around the school during the rest of the school year, bringing sustainability to the hallways in a format that students are far more likely to pay attention to.

They also encourage students to participate in Recycle Colorado’s poster contest, which highlights kindergarten through twelfth grade students across Colorado who showcase their artistic talent and commitment to upcycling. It happens every April and recently wrapped up.

“Every year we have had winners from our school,” said Florence Royal, a third grade student at Eisenhower.





Guard against waste during lunch

Members of Eisenhower’s Eco Eagles team are always visible during lunch periods, as they work to encourage students to keep their lunches as waste-free as possible. 

Eisenhower fourth grade student Nadia Marchitto says one way they achieve this is by watching the trash, recycle and composting bins like, well, an Eagle.

“We make sure folks put things in the right bins,” Marchitto said. “We make sure only food goes in the compost.” 

They take their responsibility seriously, since Eco-Cycle just recently restarted composting efforts after having to shut down operations because of the amount of contamination happening community-wide.





Partner with TerraCycle

Their recycling efforts do not stop in the lunchroom. The students work with TerraCycle to collect recyclable materials in a bin at the school.

“We collect used clothes and Terrecycle pays us for what we collect,” Royal said.

TerraCycle offers a school-specific program and collects a number of items that cannot be collected in the main waste streams.





Collect hard-to-recycle items

Annually, the students hold special collections for hard-to-recycle items, to make sure they do not end up in the landfill.

“We have set up collections to collect broken headphones, plastic film, batteries and Valentine’s and Halloween candy wrappers,” Marchitto said.





Create zero waste party kits

Speaking of holidays, they’ve recognized that a lot of waste can happen during the annual classroom parties, which is why they created zero waste party kits.

“We applied for and received a grant to get a zero waste party kit [for our classroom],” Marchitto said. “We liked the kit so much that we decided to use money we earned to buy enough reusable plates, cups, forks and cloth napkins to make party kits for all the classrooms. Now all of our school parties will be zero waste.”





Clean up campus

Regularly you can find the Eco Eagles around Eisenhower ensuring that the campus is tidy.

They help to maintain their school garden and even set up an annual event to clean up the small creek (Empson Ditch) that runs near the school.





Conduct energy audits

Turning off appliances can help a school save a lot of energy and money. 

Eisenhower Elementary has teamed up with Resource Central to conserve energy

“We walked around school using tools and determined if there was unnecessary energy being used for electronics,” Marchitto said.





Establish a no idle zone

It is not unusual for parents to leave their cars running as they’re waiting to drop off or pick up their students from school every day, so this year the Eco Eagles are working to create an idle-free zone around the school.

“The fourth grade Eco Eagles are working to stop folks from idling their cars and trucks near the school,” said Marchitto. 

They plan to educate parents and work with school administration to have signs erected around the school’s hug-and-go-lanes.

At the end of their presentation the Eco Eagles wished everyone a Happy Earth Month and said they would be continuing to look for additional ways to be sustainable and to keep it on everyone’s minds.

“Green BVSD is our passion. We are so glad to be part of a school district that makes sustainability a priority,” Hirsh said.



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