Despite making up less than 5% of Earth’s population, the United States accounts for approximately a quarter of the world’s waste. Through the Waste Campaign Grades of Green Eco-Leaders have already begun diverting waste and protecting our valuable resources, raising awareness for issues of waste in their community.

Here’s what you can be doing to reduce your own environmental footprint in 2019:

Reusable Containers and H2O ID

Plastics pollution is one of the greatest threats to our environment, yet so many people continue to use plastic water bottles, single-use bags, plastic film, shrink wrap, and plastic straws, contributing to the problem. While Grades of Green Eco-Leaders are on the case, banning single-use plastics in entire school districts, there is much that we can do to decrease our environmental footprint.

Using a re-fillable canteen for water, Tupperware for leftovers, and avoiding straws entirely, will not only help keep our planet green, but will save you money as well!

To make it easier to reuse containers, we’ve partnered with H2O ID to giveaway 50 Reusable Water Bottle ID Bands to two schools in the United States, and one international school. These bands will help you identify whose containers and prevent cross contamination- making reusing easy!

To enter the contest, head over to our Facebook page, and add a comment on the H2O ID photo. Tag 3 friends and tell us how your school is reducing plastic pollution and protecting water. On World Water Day, Friday, March 22nd, we will announce the winners!

Meal Prep

Monitor food shopping habits and plan meals in advance to limit how much food we waste. To take it one step further, invest in a slow-cooker and set one day a week to dispose of your leftovers. Any produce which is nearing its expiration can be thrown into a stew, chili, or a slow roasted medley.

According to the USDA, approximately one-third of the food supply in the United States is discarded. “Food waste, which is the single largest component going into municipal landfills, quickly generates methane, helping to make landfills the third largest source of methane in the United States.”

Wrapping Paper

Re-purpose newspapers and paper grocery bags as wrapping paper for gifts.

Thousands of pounds of wrapping paper are routinely sent to the landfill after every gift exchange.

“While the United States celebrates the holidays, Americans produce an additional 5 million tons of waste (four million of the 5 million tons consisting of wrapping paper and shopping bags).”

This year try using newspapers instead. Not only will it reduce your environmental footprint, it will save you money as well!

PRO TIP: Use the ‘Comics’ section, not only will it look festive, it will be good for a few laughs too!

Arts and Crafts

Paper and cardboard make up a significant portion of overall waste.

“The United States throws out the amount of office paper it would take to build a 12-foot wall from Los Angeles to New York City (2,794 miles).”

Rather than sending it out for recycling, reuse your paper waste for Arts, Crafts, and Activities with your kids and loved ones.

Proper Recycling

Trash sorting is one way that Eco-Leaders bring change to their community.

By staying informed about your local city recycling requirements, you can ensure that you are doing your part to repurpose materials headed for the landfill. Resources such as Earth911 can help clarify what belongs in which bin.

According to Rubicon Global, “The U.S. recycling rate is around 34.5%. If we’re able to get the rate to 75%, the effect will be like removing 50 million passenger cars from U.S. roads.”


According to the US Energy Information Administration, 143 billion gallons of gasoline were consumed during 2017 in the United States alone.

Ride-sharing is an excellent way to reduce dependence on fuel, conserve non-renewable energy sources, and reduce air pollutant emissions.

By committing to a ride-share program, you can reduce waste drastically. Many people may even consider switching to a zero-impact commute such as bike riding where geographically plausible.

Shop Local

It is estimated that food travels approximately 1500 miles from farm to table, on average, in the United States.

By patronizing your local farmers market, you can reduce the CO2 emissions associated with transporting your produce such long distances. Shopping local will help reduce waste of non-renewable resources like oil and water.



Composting is nature’s way of recycling. Leftover food scraps, leaves, and yard trimmings can easily be broken down into humus through the composting process.

Ready to take your sustainable home or office to the next level? Don’t know where to begin? Here are Grades of Green’s Composting Procedures, Composting Systems, and Guideline.

Over half a million students across 22 countries are taking action in their communities. Do you know students who are ready to be leaders in their community? The Waste Campaign begins January 11th.

Only one week left to register for the 2019 Waste Campaign! Spots are filling up fast so register now.

Halloween has long been known as one of the least environmentally-friendly holidays. Between countless candy wrappers, costumes made of harmful plastics, and decorations which burn a lot of energy; it can be hard to navigate a holiday which means so much to so many. Luckily, here’s Grades of Green’s Guide to an Environmentally-Friendly Hallo-green!



  1. Conscientious Costumes

Costumes sold at Halloween super-stores are often made of materials like PVC which contain phthalate. These materials may be flame-retardant but they end up in a landfill leaking toxic chemicals into the environment. In fact, extended exposure to these chemicals could have adverse health effects.


Host a costume swap! Just like with candy, everyone likes a little variety in their costumes! But rather than shell out cash for a new costume every year, host a costume swap with your friends and mix it up! If you’re unable to find friends in your size, join Grades of Green’s virtual costume closet!


Design your own costume using supplies you already have at home! Another way to save some green while going green, create your own hallo-green masterpiece from things around the house. Grades of Green’s Litter Monster is not only a great costume, but is a great way to raise awareness for waste reduction efforts.


You can also turn an old bridesmaid’s dress you’ll never wear into an undead party-goer with some homemade fake blood. Take an old yoga mat and turn it into a slice of pizza or a British telephone booth.


  1. Spooky Sustainable Decorations

Not only are the costumes and decorations comprised of materials which are non-combustible, the plastic packaging they come in only compounds their harmful impact. Rather than spend money on decorations which will likely be thrown out in November, recycle egg cartons into bats or make skeletons our of recycled milk jugs. Old stockings with tears can be made into spider webs, add a construction paper spider and your hallo-green party will be the talk of the town. The opportunities are endless and it can make for a creative DIY project for the whole family.


  1. Green Your Treats

While we would love to reduce waste, handing out candy which is not individually wrapped may not go over well with concerned parents. Instead, you can hand out organic goodies with a significantly smaller environmental footprint, like these organic lollipops.


  1. Potluck Party

Host a pot-luck hallo-green party and ask your friends to bring their contributions in re-usable containers. Halloween parties can be a huge perpetrator of environmental efforts due to single-use plastics. Hosting a potluck party using silverware instead of single use cutlery will significantly reduce the holiday’s environmental impact.


  1. Trick-or-Treat

Avoid hard plastic jack-o-lanterns that will never breakdown in a landfill. Instead using tote bags, reusable shopping bags, or a pillow case to collect goodies is an easy way to be environmentally-friendly.


Instead of driving to your trick-or-treat destination, walking will help reduce the number of dangerous pollutants we expel into the atmosphere. Not to mention that it will help burn off the countless calories consumed later that night!


  1. LED the Way!

Use solar panel lights to illuminate the path toward your haunted mansion.


Sweep your sidewalk when clearing a path for trick-or-treaters; you’ll be saving gallons of water by not using a hose.


  1. Pumped for Pumpkin!

Buy organic and shop local! You’ll protect water and reduce carbon emissions by picking up your pumpkin from your local farm. Click Here to locate your local family farm.


Save the seeds and pulp from your pumpkin to make delicious snacks and baked goods. By reusing or composting our unwanted pumpkin parts, we can reduce dangerous greenhouse gases. Check out our favorite recipes for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, Pumpkin Pie, and Pumpkin Soup.


Our Water Campaign Student Teams will tell you that eating a meat-less pumpkin based meal would be protecting water. By reusing the pumpkin seeds and pulp we reduce waste. For more fun ways to reuse, recycle and reduce waste, register for our Waste Campaign now!





For more DIY projects, green activities, and other ways to remain environmentally-friendly, visit Send your green solutions or pictures of your Hallo-green Holiday to @gradesofgreen or send us a message on Facebook!

Did you know Grades of Green offers over 40 Activities to empower students to create environmental change in their community? Whether students are interested in water conservation, energy conservation, toxins reduction, or waste reduction, Grades of Green has a hands on, fun Activity with step-by-step instructions, downloadable resources, and more! If you are interested in tackling waste, one of Grades of Green’s most popular Waste Activities was Trash Free Lunches. However, we have recently refined this Activity and split it into two separate Activities: Trash Free Lunches and Waste Sorting Station.

The Trash Free Lunches Activity focuses on students spreading awareness about the need to create less trash through the use of reusable items, while also teaching kids how to pack their own trash free lunch. This is a great Activity for schools where a large portion of their student population brings their lunch to school.

The Waste Sorting Station Activity focuses on diverting waste from landfills by creating a waste sorting station where kids can sort their garbage into various containers. This is a great Activity for schools where a large portion of their student population receives lunch from the cafeteria.

For the best waste-reduction results, we recommend schools pair these Activities together! Schools that have competed in Grades of Green’s Trash Free Lunch Challenge have all paired these two website Activities together to reduce and average of 70% of their lunchtime waste, with winning schools reducing over 90% of their lunchtime waste.

Interested in signing up your school for an eco-competition? Check out Grades of Green’s Spring 2018 Water Challenge and click here to register!

One of the most important steps in setting up a successful Grades of Green Team at your school is getting organized. Do you and your Grades of Green Team have plans to implement No Idle Zones, Classroom Recycling, Trash Free Lunches, or another Grades of Green Activity? Click here to view our Grades of Green Team Schedule Template and click here to check out our Green Team student schedule examples created by real schools. Get ready to be inspired to lead your own Grades of Green Team!

Do you have a motivated Grades of Green Team and you are not sure what to do next? We are now recruiting schools from across the globe to join our Water Challenge! Click here to learn more about Grades of Green’s Spring 2018 Water Challenge or email  for more information on how your school can get involved.

Thinking about taking on a Grades of Green Activity? Maybe it’s your first Activity or one of many Activities you’re planning for this school year. No matter where in the world you are or whichever step in your Activity you’re on, join us for our upcoming webinar series! The series is created to teach leadership, communication, and community-building skills while implementing a hands-on activity to take action at your school. These 4 webinars will help you take on any of our 40+ Activities. We recommend watching all 4 webinars since they cover different topics. You can watch them on your own (as an individual student/educator) or with your entire Grades of Green Team. Mark your calendars for the webinars listed below! Please don’t forget to register for each of the webinars by going to the following links and selecting “going” to receive updates on how to access the webinar when we are live and more! (If you click the blue buttons below, it will add the webinar information to your digital calendar of choice):

WEBINAR 1: October 12th at 2pm PST/5pm EST
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WEBINAR 4: May 3rd at 2pm PST/5pm EST
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You can optionally receive text or email reminders about the webinars. Contact us here to receive these reminders.

And, register your school with Grades of Green! You’ll receive FREE downloadable resources and one-on-one staff advisor support year-round.

Did you know the production of disposable water bottles uses 17 million barrels of oil a year? Purchasing water bottle filling stations for school campuses are not only a great way to provide fresh drinking water to students, but they can also help conserve natural resources, teach kids about the impact of single use plastics, and encourage the use of reusable water bottles. In fact, by encouraging students to use reusable bottles, families can save up to $300 every year!

Do you know a school in Los Angeles County, CA that’s been wanting to purchase a water bottle filling station?  For a limited time,  our friends at the West Basin Municipal Water District will award grants – up to $1,000 maximum per applicant – for the purchase of a Water Bottle Filling Station! Applications will be continuously accepted on a first-come first-served basis. To see if your school is eligible and for more information, view their flyer here or visit their website here.

Want help choosing the right water bottle filling station for your campus and encouraging students to use it? Whether you’re in Los Angeles County or on the other side of the world, click here to register and unlock Grades of Green’s Water Refill Station Activity and receive one-one-one support from a Grades of Green Advisor!

Re-using and recycling supplies at special events saves your school money and diverts waste from landfills. Greening your events also sets a great example for parents and students that sustainability can be easy and saves money.

Check out Grades of Green’s top five tips for greening special events at your school:

1. Recruit a volunteer to be a Green Events Advisor who will help the Event Chair or Committee to make school functions more environmentally friendly.

2. Ditch plastic water bottles by purchasing large water coolers to be used with reusable cups or cups made from recycled or compostable materials. Purchase environmentally friendly cups, plates, and utensils to replace Styrofoam and plastic. Better yet, purchase reusable items that can be washed and reused after each use.

3. Work with your PTA/PTO to purchase environmentally friendly, sturdy table cloths that can be wiped down after each use and reused. Be sure to store them on a roll as opposed to folding them to ensure they last as long as possible.

4. Organize a “party closet” or “party packs” where teachers can use and reuse items for in-class parties. Room parents can take the items home after each party to wash and return them to the closet.

5. Make recycling available at all school events. The key to good recycling is to make sure the recycle bins are right next to the trash bins. The janitor should use clear plastic bags for the recycle bins so that when they are taken to the dumpster, they can be distinguished from the trash. Contact your waste hauler to see if they can provide temporary containers for large events.

Green school assemblies offer a fun, and exciting approach to environmental education, and students will love these assemblies! Students will better retain environmental information through interactive eco-friendly school assemblies.

Find a volunteer to oversee the school assembly process. That volunteer will research green school assembly ideas for your school. Some green assembly ideas include contacting local zoos, aquariums, farms, non-profits that cater to environmental issues, national parks in your area, or other environmental community programs.

If your school is located in the Los Angeles area, check out the Environmental Defenders for an environmentally friendly school assembly in Southern California.

Additionally, you could utilize some songs at your green school assembly as well. Check out Think Green and Pick it Up.

Make sure the volunteer communicates directly with your school’s administration regarding the volunteer’s plans for a green school assembly. Additionally, the volunteer must coordinate with any relevant parties. Based off your school’s schedule, have the volunteer plan the best day for a green school assembly. Even if the green school assembly is only for one class or one grade level , the environmental knowledge that the students learn will be long-lasting!

Check out these tips on fostering a green field trip for your school. First, find a volunteer (either a parent, student or educator) to research an environmentally friendly location for a school field trip. This volunteer should then compile a list of all the green field trips that your school could potential embark upon.

Think about your school’s location and what types of environmentally friendly organizations are close by. If you live near a body of water, see if there is a local governmental or non-profit organization that oversees that body of water, and contact them to see if you could set up a potential field trip there. Are there any wildlife preserves near you? See if you could organize a school field trip near a wildlife preserve.

Once you have your put your list of environmentally friendly field trips together, present that list to the person at your school who oversees scheduling field trips. Be mindful that your school may require permission slips from the students for any school-sponsored field trip.

Remember to create an environmental outcome from your school field trip. One idea for the environmental outcome of the field trip could be for students to learn more about conserving water, or preserving nature, or littering less! Students will be inspired and empowered to care for the environment more because  field trips offer a way for students to really connect with the nature and learn how to protect our Earth.

Lastly, the field trip should always engage students and remain both educational and fun!

There is nothing like some positive publicity to inspire and empower your school to keep up its environmental efforts! You should aim to publicize each Grades of Green Activity that you implement at your school. Publicizing your school’s success boosts both the pride and the morale of your Grades of Green Team, because this publicity highlights all of the Green Team’s hard work.

Choose a volunteer (either a parent, student or educator) to help with your Green Team publicity initiative. People with marketing backgrounds or people involved in current Grades of Green Activities are often great volunteers! An easy way to spread the good news about successfully completing a Grades of Green Activity is through an e-newsletter. The e-newsletter allows parents, your school, and the local community all know more about the successes of the Grades of Green Program at your school.

Another great way to spread the word about your Grades of Green achievements is by letting the community know about your success. There are many ways your school can get recognition for its green achievements simply by utilizing different media outlets.

The volunteers could contact your local newspaper in order to get the word out about the successes of your Green Team. Likewise, you could create a YouTube video that highlights all the accomplishments of your school’s Green Team as well. The more your school publicizes its environmental stewardship, the easier it is to garner support around implementing more Grades of Green Activities at your school.

Lastly, check out the No Idle Zone Communication Toolkit for an additional resource on publicity.