Boulder Valley School District

Sustainability abounds in BVSD schools

students collecting waste in lunchroom
Carolyn Nohe

Continue the efforts in your own home

Next Wednesday celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, an annual event celebrated worldwide. This year Earth Day, as with all other major events this spring, will look dramatically different -it’s going digital. What’s also unique heading into Earth Day 2020 is a dramatic decrease in carbon emissions and pollution over the past few months— a positive side effect of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Here in BVSD, schools are at the forefront of sustainability in the nation. This spring, the City of Boulder earned the distinction of being the first city in the United States to have comprehensive Zero Waste opportunities available to all students, preschool through high school graduation! This is a huge milestone for our school district and community.

Eco-cycle launched the Zero Waste-Green Star Schools program back in the 2004-05 school year with four BVSD schools earning the honor. With the recognition of Boulder High School this year, forty schools in BVSD are now Zero Waste-Green Star Schools! 

“This is a big deal. You can’t push this onto schools. You need everyone at the school on board with implementation, from custodians, to food services, to teachers, students, and leadership,” says Ghita Carroll, BVSD Sustainability Coordinator.

What does it take to become a Green Star School? Schools need to reduce waste in the lunchroom and throughout the whole school, increase recycling, implement collection of compostables, and increase awareness and participation. 

Schools are not in this alone; community partners play an important role in implementation. Eco-cycle provides both funding and non-monetary support for projects,education, andtraining, with the additional funding coming from the district, Boulder County, City of Boulder  and grants.

“The waste reduction efforts of BVSD staff, students and families are inspiring. Starting with daily waste reduction through composting, recycling, and reuse, to raising awareness of issues related to plastics, organizing Zero Waste community events, and speaking to legislators about their concern for the environment at Youth Lobby Day, the Green Star Schools community continues to be a Zero Waste model to schools throughout the U. S.. Green Star Schools make EVERY day Earth Day!” says Kim Orr, Eco-Cycle’s Green Star Schools Program Manager.

In addition to the Green Star Schools Program expansion, there has been huge growth in EV charging stations across the district as well, with 42 sites currently having charging stations, and 7 new grants being awarded this year to bring the total to 49.

Both of these initiatives have gained momentum due to student passion around tackling environmental issues. Summit Middle School was awarded a grant this spring for the installation of an EV Charger in large part due to 8th Grader Leland Galvin whose pinnacle project was on encouraging people to switch to electric vehicles. Leland helped write the grant application and presented the project to the school’s Board of Directors.

At Angevine Middle School, students took the lead in preparing to launch the Green Star Schools program there. The AVID Public Achievement students drafted a proposal to the school’s administration team, worked with other student clubs to gain support, and created an implementation timeline.

“We believe that this is an important step for Angevine to take and hope that you will honor our requests so we can take this step towards helping our community stay clean and our planet healthy,” wrote the team in their proposal. The Green Star Schools program was on track to launch this spring at Angevine, but due to buildings being closed, the launch will be completed in the fall. With Angevine on board next fall, the City of Lafayette will join Boulder in having comprehensive Zero Waste opportunities available to all students, preschool through high school.

With school buildings closed, staff and families can continue these sustainability efforts by making changes around their home. 

There are also many ways to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day at home on Wednesday, April 22. If you and your kids do something to celebrate Earth Day let us know via twitter or Facebook @greenBVSD #earthday!


Recent Stories