We’ve all heard the rule that we shouldn’t feed wildlife, but what happens when the wildlife feed themselves human food? Green Team students at El Segundo Middle School noticed that birds would fly onto their campus and eat lunchtime waste from open trash bins and litter scattered across campus – food sources that are unhealthy for birds. Unfortunately, this trash eating habit is a common issue for birds near coastal schools.


Through the Waste Campaign, these eco-leaders determined that their solution is to educate their entire school community to properly sort their lunchtime waste between their compost, recycling, and landfill bins through classroom-to-classroom presentations. The team will also prevent birds from accessing the school’s waste by obtaining special lids for their bins and motivating their school community to keep their campus litter-free. This prevents litter from affecting the environment which would direct birds towards healthier food and more natural food sources.




Interested in implementing an eco-solution in your community like the El Segundo Middle School Green Team? Click here to sign up for the Fall 2019 Water Campaign wait list to receive more information about the program.

Did you know that it takes 5 years for a cardboard milk carton to decompose in a landfill? After playing Grades of Green’s “How Long Until It’s Gone” eco-game, students at the Boys and Girls Club at Towne Avenue Elementary in Carson, CA learned how long it took for different items to decompose in a landfill.




Boys and Girls Club Students teamed up to form “Team Towne,” a team dedicated to recycling milk cartons provided during snack time to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills. With over 100 students in the Club, Team Towne hopes to recycle over 1,000 milk cartons by the end of the school year with 90% accuracy.



Interested in implementing an eco-solution in your community? Click here to sign up for the Fall 2019 Water Campaign wait list to receive more information about the program.

Grades of Green Eco-Leader Dalia from Los Angeles, CA was featured by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), a blog that promotes excellence in environmental education. Click here to read how about Dalia’s opinions on improving water conservation and click here to view her project video on different water conservation strategies.



Guest Blog: A Middle Schooler’s Take on Changemaking: Drops in the Bucket

Interested in starting an environmental movement in your community like Dalia? Sign up for our 2019 Water Campaign wait list to receive more information on how to get involved and follow us at @gradesofgreen.

Are you passionate about making special events come to life? Join the Grades of Green team as an Event Planning Intern and help Grades of Green bring our annual gala, Verte 2019, to life! Your responsibilities will include assisting with event planning logistics, auction coordination, donor acknowledgement, and more.


Check out the Event Planning Intern job description here. To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to info@gradesofgreen.org. Applicants will be considered on a rolling basis.

Grades of Green Board Chair Barbara Franqui was featured in Modern Conservationist, a blog focusing on insight into the most pressing issues affecting environmental and wildlife conservation efforts today. Click here to read how Grades of Green eco-leaders ages 12-18 around the globe are creating local environmental movements!

Grades of Green: Growing the Next Generation of Environmental Activists



Interested in starting an environmental movement in your community? Register for Grades of Green’s Waste Campaign beginning in January 2019 by clicking here.

This semester’s judges are environmental experts in water specifically. Learn more about our featured judges below.




Fall 2018 Water Campaign Judging Panel



Nancy Hersman – Mayor Pro Tem, Manhattan Beach City Council

Nancy is the Mayor Pro Tem of the Manhattan Beach City Council. Nancy, an attorney and a Manhattan Beach resident for 16 years, is presently serving on the MB City’s Planning Commission, and formerly has served the City and community on the Parks & Recreation Commission, and as a member of the MBUSD Board of Trustees. Nancy has also worked with numerous organizations, including Program Director for the MB Mayor’s Youth Council for two years.




Shaya Kirkpatrick – Co-Founder, Grades of Green


Shaya is a co-founder of Grades of Green. Previously, Shaya was a founding member of Planet Pals, an environmental program working with schools in Southern California to help children take a hands-on approach to help the environment. Shaya received the Environmental Hero Award by Assemblywoman Betsy Butler in 2011, and the 2008 Environmental SBBEC Steward of the Year Award. Shaya also received the Congressional Commendation Award for her exceptional efforts in promoting environmental conservation. In 2009, Shaya was the recipient of the Environmental Award from the Environmental Protection Agency which recognizes individuals and groups outside of the EPA who are working to protect public health and the environment. Shaya started her Interior Design career at the offices of Intradesign, Inc. in 1988 and worked on major hotel projects around the world.




George McGraw – Founder, DigDeep


George McGraw runs DigDeep in Los Angeles, which he founded. DigDeep is the only global water organization working in the U.S. — empowering the millions of Americans without running water or basic plumbing to build and manage their own water systems, including the award-winning Navajo Water Project. George is an avid speaker, writer and university lecturer. He has been published by the New York Times, the Nation and several law reviews; he has been profiled by NPR, Vice and CBS News, and he has spoken at events hosted by the Clinton Foundation, WeDay, the World YMCA, and Ford. George was recently named one of the 17 “Local Globalists” by the UN Foundation and is a member of Nexus. He has a Masters in International Law and Conflict Management from the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica.




Kaylee Weatherly – Public Information Officer, Long Beach Water Department


Kaylee is a Public Information Officer at Long Beach Water Department. and manages the department’s media relations and award-winning digital and communications strategies. She has worked in public affairs and public relations for six years in water and energy efficiency organizations. She is a Board member of the California Association of Public Information Officials and a member of the Association of California Water Agencies Communications Committee and the Southern California Water Committee Public Education Task Force.
She is passionate about creating long-term water use efficiency in the state through story-telling, education and digital and social media.



Grace Woo – Assistant Water Resource Specialist, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Grace Woo is an Assistant Water Resource Specialist at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. She manages a contract with the Council for Watershed Health for a pilot school water conservation program in underserved communities. She also conducts water savings analysis for landscape irrigation, commercial, and industrial water savings projects through Metropolitan’s pay-for-performance “Water Savings Incentive Program.” Grace received her B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in Environmental Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles.




Natalie Kra – Project Manager, Optima Energy INC


Natalie is a Project Manager at Optima Energy INC. Natalie manages and coordinates Optima Energy’s Nest Thermostat Program. She coordinates energy efficiency upgrades for multi-family residential buildings, helping conserve millions of kWh each month. She specializes in developing and implementing strategies that inspire and mobilize California community members to take action for the environment.




Ariel Russ – Sustainability Initiatives Manager, Macmillon

Ariel is a Sustainability Initiatives Manager at Macmillon, a global publisher of books, textbooks, and digital learning media. Before Macmillan, Ariel was a Sustainability Intern at DanoneWave. She recently earned her Masters of Environmental Management program at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where she honed her skills in empowering corporations to engage in the appropriate corporate sustainability strategies to minimize environmental and social risks across their supply chains.



Alisha Auringer – Manager of the Environment, LAcarGUY


Alisha is the Manager of the Environment at LAcarGUY. She is also the Director of Sustainability at Sullivan Automitve Group.




Jennifer LaMarque – South Bay Deputy to Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn

Jennifer is the South Bay Deputy to LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn, representing the 4th district.



Scarlett Tovar – Student Employee, Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County

Scarlett is a Student Employee at Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, where she conducts public outreach and coordination, special program administration and project management of various activities undertaken by the Public Information Office. She graduated in 2016 with B.S. in Environmental Planning focused in Water Management from U.C. Davis. This December, Scarlett will complete the requirements to obtain a Masters in Geological Sciences focused in Environmental Hydrogeology.

Grades of Green is on the lookout for a Data and Development intern in our Los Angeles office! The Data and Development Intern will provide assistance with data entry, data analysis, and data organization across multiple departments with a primary focus on program data. They will also assist with research in multiple areas, such as grants and schools involved in Grades of Green’s various programs.



If you are skilled at Excel (but want to learn more) and want to help Grades of Green inspire and empower kids around the globe to care for the environment, click the link for more details on how to apply: http://bit.ly/GOGintern

With the help of several Grades of Green students,  Grades of Green celebrated Halloween early by co-hosting a booth with the Manhattan Beach Downtown Business and Professional Association at the Manhattan Beach Pumpkin Races. While competitors waited their turn to race their custom-built pumpkins down Manhattan Beach Blvd, Grades of Green students taught them how to reduce waste through a fun activity called veggie stamping. Grades of Green’s veggie stamping activity involves dipping scraps from veggies like onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes in an ink pad, and then stamping the beautiful and intricate designs onto trick-or-treat bags. Attendees also got to guess the weight of a giant pumpkin for the chance to win a free basket of delicious (and eco-friendly) Manhattan Beach Farmers Market produce!




Are you interested reducing waste in your community? Join Grades of Green’s Waste Campaign to research local waste issues, develop innovative solutions, and share those solutions with your school or community. Click here to sign up today! You can also check out this brochure about the program or watch this quick video to learn more!

Since 2011, Grades of Green has worked with schools across southern California to divert 1,740 tons of waste from landfills by setting up waste sorting stations, composting, and more through the Trash Free Lunch Challenge program! This spring, Grades of Green is expanding our waste reduction program to empower 200 student teams across the globe to tackle regional waste issues.




Starting in January, Grades of Green is launching our four-month Waste Campaign for 6th-12th grade students to engage eco-heroes across the globe to take action to reduce waste and develop sustainable, student-led solutions to waste issues relevant to their region. A Waste Campaign Team (a group of students, educators and community leaders) researches local waste issues, develops a solution to a water issue, and shares that idea with the community. Thanks to our sponsors, this program is free to all students, and Grades of Green will even provide personalized virtual mentorship, student leadership training, webinars featuring waste experts, waste conservation resources, and the opportunity to connect with other participating teams across the globe. Winning Campaign Teams, announced in April, will also receive up to $1,000 in Eco-Grant prizes to fund their innovative solutions. Check out this video to learn more!

The Waste Campaign is open to 200 teams of students across the globe. Campaign teams can come from schools, after-school programs, sports teams, community teams, and more! Each team needs at least 5 student members and one adult lead to supervise.




Do you know three students that are up for the challenge? Nominate them now! To join the Waste Campaign, have an adult lead complete this Google Form by January 11th!




REGISTER FOR THE SPRING WASTE CAMPAIGN HERE!

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. Here’s what they found:

Human activities have caused the planet to be about 1.8°F warmer than in the early 1800s.

This number is likely increase to 2.7°F by the year 2052.




The severity of future climate-related impacts to humans depends on how much the planet warms as well as the geographical location and ability to adapt and mitigate.

These climate-related impacts include risks to health, jobs, food security, water supply, and economic growth. Some populations are at higher risk to these climate-related impacts such as disadvantaged communities, some indigenous peoples, and communities that depend on agriculture or the coast for their livelihood.



Thankfully, the effects of a 1.8°F increase in temperature is less severe than the effects of a 3.6°F in temperature.

The severity of future climate-related impacts to biodiversity and ecosystems are also expected to be lower at a 1.8 °F increase in temperature than a 3.6°F increase in temperature.





So, what can we do to help?
The IPCC recommends that to reduce climate-related impacts, we can:




Reduce our demand for energy.

Check out our Energy Audit Activity to learn how you can reduce your use of energy at school or in your community.



Reduce our consumption of materials.


How can you lower your material consumption? Check out our Trash Free Lunches and Used Goods Supplies Activities to see how you can reduce your consumption of materials at school or in your community.




Reduce our consumption of foods that create a lot of greenhouse gases.

Did you know beef production releases a total of 30kg of greenhouse gas per kg of food while fresh produce only releases 0.42 kg of greenhouse gases per kg of food? Check out how lower the amount of greenhouse gases in your foods in our Meatless Meals Activity!

Do you want your school or community to join the movement to help reduce climate change? Join Grades of Green’s Waste Campaign to research local waste issues, develop innovative solutions, and share those solutions with your school or community. Click here to sign up today or learn more!