On October 11, 2017, the California Coastal Commission unanimously passed Jr Ocean Guardians’ Resolution declaring November as No Straw November. The efforts were forefronted by founder, 16 year old high school junior, Shelby O’Neil! Way to go, Shelby!

Here’s Youth Corps Student Johanna’s essay on going straw-less!

I am Johanna, a 13 year old student at Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica, California. I have a passion for the environment, and for working to keep it healthy. In addition to being a part of the Grades of Green Youth Corps Eco-Leadership program, some of my spare time goes to working with Heal the Bay to fulfill this interest. I have helped volunteer at multiple beach cleanups, and I always notice that there is an incredible amount plastics, which contains an awful lot of straws. “In the past 15 years, Heal the Bay volunteers have removed nearly 100,000 plastic straws and stirrers from LA County’s beaches and watersheds” (Heal the Bay’s Marine Debris Database). And that’s only found on the sand. Many more straws and other plastics end up in the ocean. Many animals which live in the ocean mistake pieces of plastic for food. Plastic drinking straws can also get stuck in sea animals nostrils, which could cause the animal to not breathe well. Using straws has become an instinct when we go out to eat. We are automatically given a straw, and even though we are perfectly capable of sipping from a glass, it is natural to use a straw when we have the option. If customers and even employees really knew what simply using a straw could do, the decision to decline using a straw would start to become natural. After all, it is what we do at home! “Plastic straws and stirrers are the Number 7 most common item found on beaches worldwide on International Coastal Cleanup Day…” (Planet Experts: Open Letter to Starbucks). Who made straws number 7? We did. Who can change that? With the help of merchants we change change our mentality towards seeing straws as plastic pollution. Plastic Pollution Coalition recommends customers only be given straws by request, and further, the straws should be reusable such as stainless steel, or easily biodegradable such as paper based. The Last Plastic Straw states, “500 million straws are used and discarded every day in the United States alone. That’s 175 billion a year filtering into landfills (environment) and littering our waterways and oceans”. When we look at it this way it seems that we really have to try to skip the straw, or use compostable or reusable straws when we are out to eat.



Students and teachers at St. Roza in Uganda are taking initiative to help conserve the environment. Today we Skyped with the incredible students who are already planting trees around their community and neighborhoods, filtering drinking water and much more. Several students are members of Wildlife Club at their school whose motto is to ‘conserve nature’. Kids of all ages are being encouraged to conserve water by harvesting rainwater and reducing water misuse. So far, students at St. Roza have concluded that the majority of water in their community is used for home chores such as for cooking, cleaning, toiletry, and irrigation. After making this assessment, students are currently focused on finding innovative ways to cut down water usage for household activities! St. Roza is part of Grades of Green’s Water Challenge Pilot Program. Keep up with the students at St. Roza by referring to our blog. You can also follow in St. Roza’s footsteps by registering here and utilizing Grades of Green’s Earth Tips to spread the word on campus!

Download our quick tips guide here!

FOMO is the horrible sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when all your friends are out having fun and you’re stuck at home. This feeling has been so widespread the internet came up with an acronym for it: FOMO – the Fear Of Missing Out. Have no fear, there is no need to have FOMO at VERTE 2017, because we’ll be sharing some of these great memories via Facebook Live.
Grades of Green’s Verte Gala celebrates all the inspirational and innovative students, educators, schools, communities and donors all around the world who are forward thinking and pushing the boundaries to protect our planet.
We know you’re probably itching to know what to expect so here’s a sneak peak:
Silent Auction – We have all kinds of great items this year: Smile beautifully with Summer Orthodontics; work a sweat with FitOn Studio’s Lisa Austin; show off that new diamond necklace from Rock & Gems; or spend an evening with friends cruising the Pacific. There is no doubt these items will make you feel good about treating yourself and giving back at the same time!
Live Auction – These big ticket items are going to go fast! Who would not want to go to on a South African Safari or take a spa week at a beautiful ranch in Montana? Or maybe you’re trying to minimize your carbon footprint and want to enjoy a catered party for 35 at Manhattan Beach’s Plaza Bank? Or a private dinner on the strand? Or gift the dream of being a Laker Ball Boy to a special child in your life? Join us at Verte for a chance to bid on these and other Live auction items!
Grades of Green student, Sam, will be at Verte!  Sam has been collecting used shoes to donate to people in need all around the world and lessen the amount of waste that enters landfills. His goal this year is to collect an astounding 25,000 pairs of shoes. To help Sam, we’d like to use Verte 2017 as another opportunity to support him in reaching his goal. Let’s help turn Sam’s ripples into waves and have his local initiative reach those in need globally!
The Verte Gala will be held at the eco-friendly Ritz-Carlton, Marina Del Rey on the evening of May 13. In order to not cause yourself grief with FOMO, watch via Facebook Live.

If you’re looking at this after our online sales link is closed, do not hesitate to call (310) 607-0175 or email info@gradesofgreen.com to see if you can still join us at Verte 2017!


A fun-filled cocktail hour with live music at the beautiful Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Rey, with a picturesque view of the coast and sunset. If giving back and having fun are things you enjoy, then no doubt we’d love to host you!


Our wonderful Verte 2017 honorees are Jeff Neu and the law firm of Morgan Lewis & Bockius, LLP.  Jeff is a lifelong environmentalist and is personally responsible for helping Grades of Green inspire and empower over 43,000 students to care for the environment! Morgan Lewis & Bockius, LLP a full-service, international law firm committed to serving the public good and has provided free legal services to Grades of Green since our inception. We’re excited to celebrate our honorees for all their efforts to amplify our vision of a greener future.


At Verte 2017, you will not only learn how our students are changing their local communities, but also how donations like yours continue to amplify their efforts into a broader global reach. Some of our Grades of Green students will demonstrate in person how invaluable their experiences have been through Grades of Green. Thanks to people like you, Grades of Green helps inspire over 400,000+ kids across 12 countries! 


Meet and mingle with the people who “speak your language” and are passionate about working to empower students, and collectively the world, to care for the environment. It is an opportunity to develop new and existing friendships, all while supporting a great cause! 


Verte is inspirational and will undoubtedly ignite your passion to care for the environment. Verte attendees will return home invigorated and motivated, knowing their support goes far beyond the event. 

Honor Earth Month by purchasing your ticket today!

Hi, I’m Braeden and I am the co-chair of the middle school Grades of Green Youth Corps Eco-Leadership Program. If you do not know what Grades of Green is, well now you are in luck! Grades of Green is an awesome group that helps kids protect the earth. Youth Corps students implement Grades of Green Activities that help the environment. One of these Activities actually pertains to what I would like to tell you about: Earth Hour. As some of you may know, March 25th will be 10th Annual Earth Hour event and it will be held from 8:30 to 9:30 pm all over the globe.

Earth Hour began as a special time when people around the world were asked to turn off their lights for one hour.  Today, Earth Hour is like a mini-Earth Day and people have gone farther than just turning off lights. Now people host candle-light dinners, go out star gazing, and spread the word about climate change. Celebrating Earth Hour is a great way to raise awareness about taking care of the earth – so why not create a plan of your own Earth Hour event?! Tell us YOUR Earth Hour plans by tagging @gradesofgreen on social media!


Braeden Riley

Co-Chair, Grades of Green Youth Corps

Grades of Green is excited to host its first ever webinar on Facebook Live about improving air quality through establishing a No Idle Zone! Schools across the country are invited to join us on February 22nd as we explain the dangers of toxic car emissions and how students, parents, teachers and volunteers can take action to spread awareness about air pollution and improve their school environment. The Webinar is a great way to help schools implement Grades of Green’s No Idle Zone Activity, with step-by-step instructions to encourage drivers to turn off car engines as they wait at school drop-off and pick-up areas. According to Hamilton County Environmental Services and Air Watch Northwest, 3 pounds of pollution per month is put into the air for just one vehicle drop-off and pick-up at a school. Reducing idling on school campuses greatly reduces emissions, which also shrinks the school’s carbon footprint and helps clear the air our children breathe. Through the interactive webinar, participants will be able to post comments in real time on Facebook and ask Grades of Green experts questions as we go, creating a dialogue that will give everyone the tools that they need to jumpstart the Activity. We are excited to offer the first 20 schools that join the webinar and take on the No Idle Zone Activity a FREE banner that students can display in front of their schools to remind drivers to turn off their engines


Support Grades of Green on #GivingTuesday and after by clicking here! Support the 350,000 Grades of Green students across 40 states and 9 countries!

Please help us welcome Susan Warshaw as the new Executive Director of Grades of Green! We are excited and honored to have Susan lead Grades of Green as we continue to change the course of the future by making environmental protection second-nature in young minds.

“I’m eager to lead the Grades of Green team as we inspire and empower more students around the nation and the world to care for the environment. From our start at one school just a short while ago, we are quickly expanding to meet the need for K-12 environmental education that brings students, parents and the larger school community together for sustainable results,” explains Warshaw.

Get to know Susan here and say come say hi at outreach events around Southern California.

Click here to view the release and share with others!

Interested in joining the Grades of Green staff, intern and volunteer team? Email info@gradesofgreen.org for more information.

Media Coverage:

My Social Good News

The Beach Reporter

The Easy Reader 

Our friends at UKonserve create waste-free and resuable lunch-packaging and food-storage solutions. Interested in checking out UKonserve‘s eco-products? We hope so! As Grades of Green supporters, students and schools, you can use the special code UKSCHOOLS to receive 20% off your next UKonserve order! Check it out and tag us @gradesofgreen and @kidskonserve on social media to show off your trash free lunches!