- Project Type: Waste Reduction
- Students: 202
- Staff: 1
- Mentor: Robyn Munici
- Location: Park Ridge, IL
- Grade Level: Grades 6-8
As a participant in the 2022-23 cohort of the Illinois Green Schools Project, worked to engage students and community in waste reduction.
Lincoln Middle School worked last year to implement a waste reduction program, including messaging to students about the sorting stations as well as increasing recycling, composting and landfill diversion. This past school year marked their second year in continuing the initiative with added signage, collaboration outside of the school, and further education of students on green efforts.
The school had made progress in reducing its waste last year, so leaders of the school’s initiative recognized that the 2022-23 school year would be a great time to engage and invigorate the school district at large to participate in sustainable measures, not just Lincoln Middle School alone.
Middle school teacher Melissa Johnson conducted a survey at the beginning of the year to get student inputs on what Lincoln could do to be more "green.” She received 202 responses to the survey, and a common theme was a desire for more messaging and signage to educate and remind students about what is recyclable or not, and to start a “green team” within the school district.
The school embarked on both of these goals. Using the Illinois Green Alliance mini-grant of $117, they purchased high quality signage stickers, which were applied to the cafeteria tables and the food sorting station in January 2023 as a reminder to be sure to recycle and compost. They continued to encourage students to sort waste via the student announcements broadcast. Faculty leaders also planned Earth Week to encourage students to celebrate sustainability each day of the week, which included a “zero waste” lunch day challenge.
Students have reported in follow-up surveys that they are more likely to recycle because of increased signage. Other schools in the district reported at a district green team meeting that they were encouraged by the efforts made at Lincoln, and representatives from each school have made plans to tour Lincoln to see what they can implement at their buildings.
In terms of next steps, faculty leaders plan to complete an audit at the end of the year to measure the student body’s success in improving their recycling and composting habits.