Last year, Greendale Global Guardians, one of our winning BC Green Games teams from Greendale Elementary in Chiliwack made a real change in their school when they had garbage audit and started up a composting and recycling program. As a result of their project’s success, Tammy Mckinley’s green team was featured in local newspapers, social media and the Science World blog. It doesn’t surprise us that the Greendale Global Guardians were asked by the district to lead other schools in “Garbology.”We were so inspired by this team that we thought we’d chat with them about their past successes and what’s in store for them in the future in this short interview:

SW: How has the Green Team changed the culture of our school and what are our future goals?

GGG: We have put in place a composting and recycling program at our school.  Last year, our goal was to reduce the waste by 50% and we reduced it by a total of 70%.  The Green Team has done a garbology study this year, and we would like to reduce our garbage by another 15%.  We go to classrooms and teach the other students in the school what should go in composting, garbage and recycling.  This year we purchased 3 outdoor containers that are for garbage, recycling, and composting.  The amount of garbage on the playground has reduced by 20%.  These containers have lids so the crows and seagulls can’t get the waste out.  We bring these containers inside after every lunch hour.

We have planted a garden and donated the food to people in need, and this year we are expanding our garden to include flowers and plants that are indigenous to Chilliwack.

We have also put in place a school wide water bottle weekday plan where we bring in re-useable bottles to school to drink out of instead of plastic ones. Also on Wednesdays we have “Litter less lunches” so students are encouraged to bring their lunches in re-useable containers, so we don’t throw plastics in the garbage.

This year we are purchasing bags made from recycled materials in order for all of the students to store their school supplies over the Christmas, and Spring Breaks.  We will be taking 141 (twice a year) plastic bags out of the landfill/recycling depot by using these cloth bags.  We ordered extra bags that we can sell to our family members.

SW: What are your future goals for your community?

GGG: At the November DC schools meeting, we were asked to lead other schools through a garbology study.  We learned about what the landfill looks like and how we can reduce the contributions to this.  We had students from others schools go through garbage and organize items into several different categories: composting, garbage, juice bottles, metal and glass, recyclable plastics, pop cans, and cardboard.  One of the schools in the district asked us about how to get a composting program, and we provided them with contact information.

Our goals for our community are for us to recognize how we impact the habitats of animals and marine life around us.  This year we have adopted a polar bear through the World Wildlife Federation, and we will be hatching salmon eggs to release in our local waterway. We plan to have the whole school pick up garbage in our community on Earth Day.  Our Green Team is collaborating with another school to go along the Vedder River to pick up garbage there. We have been waiting for our water refilling station to be put in, so we can reduce the amount of water that is wasted going down the drain.  We did a community bottle drive this fall and we raised $190.