On May 2nd at 1:30 P.M. Pacific Time, join us for our Final Webinar of the school year!

In the past year, our series of webinars aimed to teach leadership, communication, and community-building skills while implementing one of our 40 hands-on activities to take action at your school and in your community. If you’re looking to improve your environmental advocacy skills, review our past webinars like our “Create a Movement” and “Spread the Word” webinars!

For our Grand Finale, we’re bringing you tips and tricks from our rockstar panel of Grades of Green Advisors – live! If you’re interested in improving your actions, sustaining your environmental program for future generations, or you have any questions for our advisors, please join us on Facebook and we’ll do our best to answer your questions.

The panel of Advisors will answer questions and share feedback on carrying-on your environmental programs and activities over the summer and on-to the next school year! You can watch them on your own (as an individual student/educator) or with your entire Grades of Green Team!

We hope to see you all soon!

Banning Straws!

In the past few weeks, we have kept you all updated on Daves Ave Elementary’s Grades of Green Team and their efforts to ban straws and single-use plastics in the Los Gatos School District! And…

We’re happy to announce that Daves Ave Elementary has SUCCESSFULLY banned straws in their entire school district! After creating and reciting skits and presentations on plastics throughout the semester, the school continued to mobilize to improve waste reduction. They collected signatures for their petition to ban straws in the school district and to support measures in California to reduce straw usage. The team sent over 160 letters agreeing to their petition to both their school district and to their local assemblyman. After receiving the letters and hearing these concerns, the Team was invited to present their case to their school district. They were given 5 minutes to convince the district to reduce straw usage. The students argued that straws were not necessary for their milk cartons nor were they needed for water- the two served drinks in their cafeteria. In addition, they used the facts that they presented to their schools earlier in the year and educated the school board about the dangers of plastic pollution. They argued that plastic pollution was especially dangerous to marine health and certain plastics, like the plastic from straws and plastic utensils, were especially difficult to recycle. After a passionate display of knowledge and environmental advocacy, the Grades of Green Team waited in anticipation to hear back from the school district.

Last week, the Los Gatos School District agreed to ban straws in the entire district and are in works to replace utensils with biodegradable options and compostable napkins. Previously, utensils, straws, and napkins would be provided in plastic packets that would be handed to all students- essentially forcing students to create waste. However, with this new measure, the school will greatly reduce their plastic waste output! In addition, in honor of their cafeteria’s Trash-Free Tuesdays, their school lunches will now be completely waste free on Tuesdays. The cafeterias agreed to opt for meals that can be eaten without utensils, like sandwiches and burritos!

Join Us!

Green Teams, like the one at Daves Ave Elementary, have achieved success through education, spreading awareness, and keeping up pressure on officials. If you want to join an amazing network of Grades of Green schools who are advocating for the environment, sign up here!

Resourceful and Daring!

Kanwal, a Grades of Green student in Pakistan, continues to impress! Last semester, she noticed that environmental education was lacking in her community. Moreover, the lack of trash and recycling infrastructure did her no favors. Thus, the ambitious student took matters into her own hands and organized a “Single Use Plastic” Seminar last year. With environmental experts and professors to talk about plastics, the seminar brought the hazards of plastic waste to her community.

Building Eco Momentum

After finding ways to make environmental issues relevant to her community, Kanwal has continued her passion to spread awareness to students. Being as resourceful as she is, Kanwal up-cycled thrown away cardboard and paper to make large presentations for her students. With these repurposed boards, she has reached out to over 600 students! The students have been receptive and enthusiastic to these messages of reusing goods and reducing dependency on plastic. With such a great response, Kanwal is hopeful that these kids will grow up to be amazing environmental advocates as well!

Thanks for sharing your passion in the environment with others, Kanwal!

Inspired by the blog post written by our L.A. intern Josh about air quality, our friends at St. Roza in Uganda reached out to us to share their own efforts to help with air quality!

Using designs from their fellow art students, the student eco-leaders at St. Roza have constructed an incinerator in order to reduce emissions produced from the burning of the waste they create. Before the students built their incinerator, some of their waste was burned in an open fire with no way to control the emissions created. This sent all sorts of toxins and pollutants into the atmosphere. These students are very concerned about the addition of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and its effects on global warming and rainfall, so using materials such as clay, sand, and stones, they took matters into their own hands and built an incinerator! They are always working to improve the quality of air and the environment however they can!

We are so happy to hear what these students are doing to reduce air pollution! Their eco-tip might even end up on a special Grades of Green reusable napkin made by our friends at Funkins! Did you submit your eco-tip for our custom napkin contest with Funkins? If so, be on the lookout for an email from us announcing the winners on March 25th!

Interested in spreading the word about protecting air quality or reducing air pollution? Register here to gain access to our 40+ Eco-Activities like our Air Earth Tips Activity!

Nebraska’s Finest

Millard Extension schools in Omaha, Nebraska, have made waves within the Grades of Green community in recent months. With a Grades of Green Team with 29 students from ages 5 to 20, this ambitious school district has participated in many environmental projects. Their projects range from litter collection to protecting Monarch butterflies. Amidst their busy schedule and many ambitions, Millard Extension schools have made friends with other Grades of Green Schools along the way.

Connections through the Water Challenge

They met with St. Roza in Uganda and Malezi Community School in Kenya during the 2017 Water Challenge. After the challenge, they have continued to combine their strengths and efforts and have helped each other create stronger solutions to environmental issues.

Sustainable Tilapia Farming

Shawn Graham, a Science teacher helping with the Millard Grades of Green Team, has focused on helping his team with implementing sustainable agriculture in the North Central Region. Shawn and his students were nominated as finalists for Nebraska’s Step Forward Awards last year for their efforts in sustainable tilapia farming. This sustainable system created a more efficient way to produce food, educated others on the importance of strong water quality, and provides economic opportunities to tackle food insecurity.

Sharing their Work Around the World

The ambitious Grades of Green Team at Millard Schools wanted to do even more. They shared their plans and ideas with their Water Challenge Friends, St. Roza and Malezi Community school. Jay, a student with the Grades of Green Team, wrote a grant to bring awareness to food issues that people in both Kenya and Nebraska had. The team used their sustainable fishing and agriculture projects to help people with food insecurity and sustainability on a global scale. Moreover, Millard’s Team worked with organizations and schools in the North Central Region to address the food needs of the 12 states in the region. Expanding the project allowed participating students to do the following: first, the students had a chance to use STEM skills to solve real world issues. Second, the participating students addressed food insecurity, sustainability, and aquaculture needs in the North Central Region. Third, the students had glimpses into real world business experience.

More Opportunities to Learn

In addition, their Grades of Green Team has collaborated with University of Nebraska-Lincoln with an education program. This program seeks to provide students an opportunity to work with scientists working on water related research- improving their STEM skills and knowledge of environmental issues. By mentoring younger generations, scientists can nurture a strong respect for knowledge and environmental stewardship for years to come. This prepares students for new challenges, economic shifts, and the ability to help others.

Want to join awesome schools in addressing environmental issues? Register with Grades of Green here to add your school!

Francis Scott Key Elementary Protects the Watershed!

Water’s importance to all life cannot be understated. Without enough quality water sources, it would be difficult to grow food, make clothing, cool power plants, clean belongings, and more.

Luckily, Francis Scott Key Elementary, a school situated in District Heights, Maryland, is tackling these water issues. As a 2018 Spring Water Challenge Participant, Francis Scott Key Elementary focusing on the “Water Quality” aspect of the Water Challenge.

Their Grades of Green team is tackling water runoff and pollution. Water runoff from rain can wash dirt, chemicals, and other pollutants into drains, which eventually go into the local watershed. Without proper prevention or mediums to neutralize water runoff, these pollutants can harm local wildlife. Local wildlife are vital to maintaining water quality. Water Quality can be accessed by the number of insects in a body of water, fish health, nitrogen and phosphate levels, and absence of algae blooms.

Francis Scott Key is using Micro-Bio Retention Facilities to collect runoff water in ponds of native plants that filter runoff water before distributing the water into the larger watershed. By filtering runoff water, nitrogen and phosphorus can be absorbed by plants and prevent algae blooms! Moreover, these filters can protect animals and insects that are vital to protecting water ways.

Follow @gradesofgreen on Instagram for weekly Water Challenge stories from schools like Francis Scott Key Elementary!

Download our quick tips guide here!

What’s greener than no idle zones in schools? No idle zones in car dealerships! In celebration of Earth Month, LAcarGUY is setting a new auto industry standard by introducing the very first No Idle Service Center in all 11 of their South Bay dealerships. As one of Grades of Green’s longtime supporters, LAcarGUY has helped dozens of schools take on the No Idle Zone activity to educate parents and students on why it’s important to reduce carbon emissions and unnecessary idling. As green leaders of the auto industry, LAcarGUY is showing just why they are on the forefront of environmental sustainability. Way to go LAcarGUY! Interested in implementing a no idle zone in your school? Check out Grades of Green’s No Idle Zone Activity for a step-by-step guide on how to roll out a successful program and don’t forget to watch our recent webinar to learn how one small and simple change can make a positive impact on the environment.

Grades of Green was featured in the Santa Monica Daily Press in recognition of all the Grades of Green Website Activities and Youth Corps Eco-Leadership Activities implemented throughout schools in Santa Monica! Check out the article here to see what schools in Santa Monica are doing to help the environment. Click here to register and unlock our 40+ Grades of Green Activities and click here to learn more about our Youth Corps Eco-Leadership Program.