Middle School Grades of Green student leaders Leslie and Mariana from Long Beach, CA wanted to help their school conserve water, so they set out to install a rain barrel on campus to collect rain water! To install a rain barrel, they first had to raise money to purchase the rain barrel. These rockstar students decided to host “Recycling Fridays” to collect bottles and cans to be redeemed for money. Every week, they encouraged their peers and community to bring in their recyclable bottles and cans. After a few months, they eventually raised enough money to purchase their rain barrel and even had extra money to spare, which was used to support the school garden!

Next, Leslie and Mariana wanted to create a sign to educate their campus on the purpose of their rain barrel. Using a free graphic design website called Canva, they were able to create a professional-looking sign that informed their campus of what a rain barrel is and how they conserve water. Way to go Leslie and Mariana!

Interested in implementing a water project, like installing a rain barrel, in your community? Check out Grades of Green’s Water Campaign, and click here to register today!

Did you know that 30-40% of food in the US is wasted, or that reducing the amount of food waste sent to the landfill results in both water and energy savings? Check out this episode on Food Waste by Curiosity Quest to learn all about the food industry and how waste is managed! The episode features Grades of Green Eco-Leaders and waste sorting experts Ashely, Tiana, and Audrey from Macy Intermediate in Monterey Park. Grades of Green communities like the city of Manhattan Beach are also featured!

Interested in reducing food waste in your school or community? Email info@gradesofgreen.org for information on our Spring 2018 Waste Campaign!

Grades of Green is proud to congratulate the exceptional students who participated in the Los Angeles 2017-2018 Youth Corps Eco-Leadership program! Over the weekend 200 students, family members, and community members gathered for our Environmental Expo to conclude the year. The celebration took place was generously hosted by our partners at Subaru Pacific in Hawthorne. The event included delicious vegetarian pizzas and salads, an ice cream cart, a photo booth, games, live music, a DJ, and science -fair style booth presentations from each  Youth Corps Eco-Leader showcasing the Grades of Green Activity they implemented over the past year. In the past nine months, Youth Corps leaders have accomplished some amazing environmental feats including installing rain barrels on campus, rolling out e-waste drives, teaching Eco-Lessons in their classrooms and more.

Each student was presented with a certificate of recognition from Grades of Green, as well as a certificate from their respective Los Angeles County District office. Six Youth Corps student groups were even awarded a $100 scholarship from Subaru Pacific to continue and expand their Grades of Green Activities. These six student groups were voted as Crowd Favorite, Most Impressive Metrics, Best Community Builder, Most Persistent, Strong Leadership Skills, and Most Creative Display. To top it all off, the Grades of Green Youth Corps Eco-Leadership program was honored to be presented with a check of over $10,000 from Subaru’s Share the Love event! To check out photos from the celebration, click here!

This year’s Youth Corps Eco-Leaders are leading the way in environmental stewardship, and we could not be more proud! Thank you to the incredible sponsors who help us make this program possible: Arconic FoundationCity of Santa Monica,    County of Los Angeles 4th District,  Subaru Pacific, LAcarGUY, Beach Cities Health District, Continental Development Corporation, and Klean Kanteen!

Are you interested in leading a Grades of Green program at your school or in your community? Email info@gradesofgreen.org for more information on how you can get involved in our global Waste and Water Campaigns!


As the school year comes to an end, Grades of Green Youth Corps Eco-Leaders are starting to get recognized by their schools and communities for all of their Grades of Green eco-activities that they began implementing back in the fall. Grades of Green Eco-Leaders Johanna and Averie from Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica and Noah and Braeden from St. Marks School in Venice were recently recognized for their leadership by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl from the LA County Board of Supervisors 3rd District. Johanna educated her community on ocean pollution solutions, Averie is working to ban plastic water bottles on campus, and Noah and Braeden reduced their school’s waste by 75%!  Check out the article by clicking here (also available here)!

Interested in leading a waste or water campaign in your school or community? Email info@gradesofgreen.org for information on how Grades of Green can support you!

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.

Interested in taking the pledge to skip the straw? Click here to learn more about Heal the Bay’s Strawless Summer Campaign.

Want to become an eco-leader like Johanna? Click here to learn about Grades of Green’s Youth Corps Eco-Leadership Program!

Want to help protect California’s coast? Click here to learn how you can join Grades of Green and Heal the Bay at Coastal Cleanup Day 2017.


Grades of Green was a huge part of my high school experience, yet my passion for environmental activism has only grown since being a part of the Youth Corps Eco-Leadership program. I now am a senior studying Earth Systems at Stanford University with concentrations in sustainable food and agriculture, and Spanish. In past summers, I have worked for an urban development non-profit called 100 Resilient Cities in New York and conducted environmental education research based on immersive backpacking trips in Yosemite National Park. More recently, I studied abroad in Santiago de Chile, where, while not learning about Chile’s incredible biodiversity in the classroom, I was lucky enough to explore the country’s natural wonders. I not only made it far South to camp in Torres del Paine in Patagonia, but traveled North to the Atacama Desert, where I sandboarded down massive dunes. I’m now spending the summer interning in Buenos Aires, Argentina with the municipal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As an intern in their urban agriculture sector, I spend half my days in the greenhouse planting in preparation for their future educational farm, and the other half writing and designing a permaculture manual to accompany the city’s workshops

Put your eco-literacy to the test! Are the following statements true or false?

1. If everyone in the world lived like an average American, we would need 5 Earths to sustain our lifestyle.

2. The hole in Earth’s ozone layer actually reduces the greenhouse effect but allows harmful UV radiation to pass through.

3. It takes 1800 gallons to grow cotton needed for one pair of jeans.

If you’re like half of all Americans, you may have had to look these questions up on the internet to find out they are all true, but these are some of the topics students are beginning to learn in the classroom thanks to a focus on environmental literacy. Environmental literacy not only means understanding the science of the environment and understanding society’s impact on the natural world, but also being able to make informed decisions to actively help the global environment.

Although schools across the United States still have a long way to go before all their students are environmentally literate, California had a recent victory in environmental literacy. With the support of over 130 organizations and state leaders like Senator Ben Allen, Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, California Governor Jerry Brown approved a one-time budget of $4 million to fund environmental literacy in the state in 2017-2018. According to Ten Strands, this budget allocation will allow school districts to utilize community-based environmental education providers and ultimately improve critical-thinking and problem-solving skills about environmental challenges that will benefit students in schools, in their communities, and in the workplace. Way to go California!

Grades of Green supplements environmental education and literacy through experiential learning with our 40+ Activities that can be accessed online and implemented in the classroom, our Trash Free Lunch Challenge which teaches kids why and how to reduce their waste, and our Youth Corps Eco-Leadership Program which empowers kids to lead an environmental activity of their own from start to finish. For more information on how our programs can improve environmental literacy, email info@gradesofgreen.org or call our office at (310) 607-0175.

At the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, Metropolitan Water District provided a grant to Grades of Green which helped our Youth Corps Eco-Leaders install a native garden on campus to save water! You can read the Manhattan Beach Sun article about their garden by clicking here, or you  can view the PDF version here.

Interested in joining our Youth Corps Eco-Leadership Program and taking on an environmental activity of your own? Email us at info@gradesofgreen.org or call our office at (310) 607-0175 for more information! Applications for the 2017-2018 program are open until September 15, 2017.

Grades of Green wishes a very happy 11th anniversary to the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market! To celebrate, Grades of Green hosted a booth with our signature veggie stamping activity. Visitors were invited to create beautiful designs with veggie scraps while learning about the importance of reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting.

A few lucky attendees even got to meet Sam H., a Grades of Green Youth Corps Eco-Leader who is collecting used shoes at the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market all summer long! Sam wants to keep as many shoes out of landfills as possible by donating them to those in need of shoes. Since he began his shoe collection in 2011, Sam has collected over 17,000 pairs of shoes. At the 11th anniversary celebration alone, Sam was able to collect over 300 pairs of shoes! You can read more about Sam’s shoe collection as well as his goal of collecting 25,000 shoes by clicking here. If you have unwanted shoes you would like to donate, please place them in the designated shoe collection bins at the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market on Tuesdays from 11am to 5pm.

Can’t make it to the Farmers Market? Donate used shoes at Tabula Rasa in Manhattan Beach from July 14 – 16 and receive a discount on your purchase! Tabula Rasa is generously offering special discounts in the store, and the discount gets better and better the more pairs of shoes you donate. Learn more about this limited time offer by clicking here.

All shoe donations to Tabula Rasa and the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market will help Sam reach his goal of collecting 25,000 pairs of shoes and will ultimately go to those in need of shoes. Thank you to the Manhattan Beach Farmer’s Market and Tabula Rasa for supporting Sam in his quest to keep used shoes out of landfills!

Grades of Green wishes a happy summer break to both students and teachers alike! To kick off summer, we hosted a booth at the Aquarium of the Pacific on Teacher Family Day. Teachers were able to learn about Grades of Green’s free environmental programs such as the Trash Free Lunch Challenge and Youth Corps Eco Leadership Program as well as Grades of Green’s 40+ Eco-Activities. Attendees also got to enjoy a fun veggie-stamping activity led by  Youth Corps Eco-Leaders Rylee G., Misha H. and Cosmo H., while learning about the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling! Interested in bringing some environmental programs into your school? Click here to register with Grades of Green and unlock our 40+ Activities for inspiration!