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Impressive Success at "Green Star" School Nederland Elementary

Nederland Elementary has a very special custodian named Liz Cooley, who this year through her tremendous green focus and effort helped get the school back to their “Green Star” status.

What is a Green Star? It is a program that was developed by Eco-Cycle to help schools in the district decrease waste by implementing zero-waste practices. Schools who receive this prestigious status must prove they divert all recyclables, implement a full lunch compost program and also provide education to students about reduction in all areas of the school. Think reusable lunch boxes, cloth napkins, reusable utensils, reusable drink containers, and plastic washable trays for school lunch instead of disposables. The schools also must implement a green purchasing policy where they go greener wherever possible when buying school supplies.

Liz Cooley has led this charge at Nederland Elementary, reinstating the compost program where all students’ left-over food scraps get emptied into a containment system that fellow custodian Troy Rosen developed. This unique design allows a smaller bucket to slide into a larger barrel where it effectively collects all food waste with less mess! Liz personally collects, stores and drives all compost fit for chickens to a local coop and brings the remaining compost to the Nederland transfer station so that 100% of food waste is being reused and/or composted correctly.

As part of continuing education for students, Liz asked Green Girl Recycling to come in and speak to each grade during their lunch. Green Girl has been providing single-stream recycling for both Elementary and High School in Nederland for over eighteen years. The goal was to increase awareness about recycling, compost, and true trash.

Bridget Johnson, Owner of Green Girl, brought in her green bag of ‘goodies’ for the kids to play a game where a student would pull out an item and hold it up high, while the classmates would vote thumbs up or thumbs down if it could be recycled. With help from Alex Richardson, who has been with Green Girl for over two years, students of all ages had fun showing off how smart they really were with what should and should not go into the recycling stream. Green Girl staff were totally impressed with the students’ preexisting knowledge! If anyone wants a refresher course; see this quick single-stream video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Qj-8BmeXEs&t revealing what should and should not go into your recycling bin that heads down to the Boulder County MRF (material recovery facility) to be processed.

Green Girl Recycling would like to thank Liz Cooley and Nederland Elementary for their dedication to recycling, composting and making Nederland Elementary School the amazing place where children get to learn and develop into the future leaders they will become. Through the school lunch program and educational Zero-Waste boards Liz has developed, to the entire culinary, facilities and educational staff – Nederland Elementary not only deserves the Green Star status, they shine green leading the way to curb waste and positively impact our mountain community!

Liz Cooley; Champion for Zero-Waste, Nederland Elementary.

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