The slogan for the last couple of years at the Redmond Parent Cooperative Preschool has been "Co-op Creates Community." More recently, this "community" feel includes a closer look at sustainability.
Along with 2 teachers, Miss Karen and Miss Julie, families help run the preschool. They serve on various committees or fulfill a board position. Add in some weekly work time together, monthly parent educational opportunities and a few optional parent-night-outs and park-dates, and the case for strong ties is made.
A recent board retreat, which I had the privilege of attending myself, resulted in the phrase "What happens at the retreat, stays at the retreat." Along with the fun that was had, it also resulted in some green initiatives to further the school along in its sustainability journey.
It began with the introduction of the Co-op's "green story" and discussing a few initiative ideas. Soon the ball was rolling and plans were in place to keep it rolling.
Why write up a green story?
It helps to create the foundation to build sustainable measures on. It also shows that the momentum is already going. "Look at what we are already doing..." soon leads to "perhaps we could try this too..."
For the preschool it showed:
- Like many local businesses, it participates in the King County Recycling and Food Scrap Recycling Programs.
- Upgraded building features for energy and water conservation efficiency. In the preschool's case, the leaser, Redmond United Methodist Church, had already added efficient lightbulbs, faucets, toilets, etc.
- Support for local events through field trips and celebrations.
- Green aspect to education. Examples include: the end of the year camping trip with plenty of "nature time," occasional "nature themed" crafts, the use of reused material in the woodworking section of the preschool and Earth Day celebrations.
What is the plan to keep the ball rolling?
As was initiated at the retreat, the preschool is piloting a green team rotation through the four classes. The green team will be an inspiration force as well as design force by integrating some of the ideas into the school operations. A committee position(s) is being created to coordinate the green efforts throughout the year.
The output of the first rotation was expanding efforts to collect and recycle more food scrap and paper towels then ever before. This was done by upsizing the compost container to a tall size garbage bin-size and using the green compostable bags as liners. Also a poster was put near the bin to give visuals on what kind of material can be put in this bin. The other bin for non-recyclables was marked with "landfill."
Also approved at the October Board Retreat was the go-ahead to participate in the Eastside Green Business Challenge. The challenge is a great way to monitor the preschool's operations by using metrics across differing categories and quantitatively have something to work toward. The challenge not only benefits the environment, but also helps with the communities name recognition and bottom line. Similar programs have been implemented in Chicago, Atlanta and Charlotte. The 2008 result for Chicago was 54,000 metric tons of CO2e Reduction, 17 buildings having achieved at least 50 percent recycling rate and $5 million in savings.
RPCP is already on the map for one of the first businesses to join the challenge and the number of businesses is already half way to the first year goal of 100. For other businesses interested in finding out more about the challenge, there is a no-cost training session this coming Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 11:30 a.m. It is happening in Redmond Town Center at the LWSD building. Click here for more details.
And finally, if you know of any other schools that are active with green teams/ green initiative—feel free to give a shout out in the comments section below. Stay tuned for a closer look at the LWSD schools coming next month.
Signing off with the triple bottom line of Sustainability: People (Community!), Planet and Profit. For more RPCP pictures, check out my blog at http://ecoeastside.blogspot.com.
Editor's note: The author of this post is a member and past president of the Redmond Parent Cooperative Preschool.