School Waste Reduction
Enlisting participation and support from various levels within a school district; the school board, district superintendent, individual departments, classrooms, faculty and staff, students, parents and community partners--is essential to recycling/waste reduction program success. Working as a school community facilitates the institutionalization of sustainable materials management and other resource conservation efforts into the school district’s business and education cultures. This toolkit is designed to provide related resources for these key participants, with this page focusing on school district administration.
Administrative leadership and support are key to successful school recycling/waste reduction programs. The most effective way to institutionalize resource conservation practices is for the school board to adopt clear statements of environmental policy and for the superintendent to adopt operating procedures to implement this policy. School board policies set a course of environmental action and help to guide/determine present and future decisions. Operating procedures provide a mechanism to integrate the school board's policy into the school organization by outlining a series of actions that reduce the environmental impacts of day-to-day activities. It is important that the procedures be clear on what is required. Equally essential is to provide appropriate training to each department on environmental practices.
If your school board does not yet have an environmental policy and administrative procedures, use the example below to draft your own. If your existing policy has been in place for years, then take this opportunity to reassess it.
Sample Policies and Procedures
Per the California School Board Association (CSBA) Policy Brief on Green Schools: An Overview of Key Policy Issues, "green schools" minimize the impact of their operations on the environment through more efficient use of energy and other natural resources, reduced use of toxic materials and efforts to improve indoor/outdoor air quality. These practices have been found to produce a number of health, academic, financial and environmental benefits, including reduced rates of asthma, respiratory tract infection and disease, allergic reactions and other negative health conditions; improved student attendance and academic performance; cost savings on utilities and buildings over time; lower emissions of pollutants; and conservation of natural resources. Districts and county offices of education are encouraged to involve stakeholders from the schools and community in developing comprehensive, coordinated strategies to enhance green school operations.
- The CSBA offers sample Board policies and administrative regulations to member school districts. In collaboration with CalRecycle, CSBA also developed a sample board policy on integrated waste management (PDF, 54 KB). Another CSBA sample policy addresses green school operations, focusing on resource conservation with respect to energy, water, waste, and environmentally preferable purchasing.
- Resolution Establishing a Green Procurement and Sustainable Procedures Policy for Berkeley Schools (PDF, 161 KB) by the Berkeley Unified School District supports the District’s comprehensive green procurement and sustainable practices. (Alameda County)
- See the memo from the Ukiah Unified School District superintendent to each principal as an example of how to communicate recycling and other integrated waste management programs (PDF, 29 KB) throughout the school district.(Mendocino County)
When your environmental policy is adopted, publicize it widely throughout your school district. Communicate the policy to students and parents by sending home a notice that references related program information in student/parent handbooks.
- The San Diego Unified School District Recycling Program Handbook is a step-by-step guide to help schools begin or improve campus recycling programs, including sample announcements and letters to parents and outside organizations using the school facilities. (San Diego County)
Oak Hills Elementary
School Handbook (2008-2009) outlines the
schools recycling achievements as well
as expectations. (Ventura County)
When your environmental policy is adopted, publicize it widely throughout your school district. Communicate the policy to students and parents by sending home a notice that references related program information in student/parent handbooks. Additionally, since resource conservation efforts benefit the surrounding community (as well as the school district), consider writing an article for your local newspaper highlighting the shared benefits of your program! This is also an excellent opportunity to recognize successful, existing resource conservation efforts.