GREENING GRAND VIEW ELEMENTARY The Kretchmers of Manhattan Beach, California Thanks to Suzanne Kretschmer and her son, Thomas, age 8, the string beans aren’t the only things that are green in the Grand View Elementary School cafeteria. The Kretschmers, along with two other families, are the driving force behind Grades of Green, a wildly successful recycling campaign that has transformed the way this Manhattan Beach school processes trash. Kids carry biodegradable trays, discard food scraps into a composter, and shoot milk cartons through a basketball hoop into a recycling bin. On Tuesdays, they bring trash-free lunches (a task made easier by the PTA’s practice of giving bento-style lunch boxes to first graders). In just a year, the 700-student school has slashed the number of garbage bags it tosses on Tuesdays from 40 to 3. Waste isn’t the only environmental issue that Grades of Green tackles. On Walk-to-School Wednesdays, Thomas helps Suzanne stamp the hands of the 400 kids who make the trip on foot. Last year, 145 students — Thomas among them — completed Grades of Green’s Gator Green Challenge, a checklist of 24 earth-friendly tasks (such as “Turn off the water while brushing your teeth” and “Purchase a worm bin”). “Being green is a label we wear with pride,” says Suzanne. Prize Money Plans: Donation to Manhattan Beach Unified School District