Thursday, January 23, 2014

May TerraCycle Be With You

Have you ever heard of TerraCycle? Well, if you haven’t, it’s a company that collects and processes items that would normally be considered waste. At Shadow Lake, we collect juice pouches to ship to TerraCycle. Ms. Fink has been collecting juice pouches at Lake Wilderness. When Ms. Fink has enough pouches to fill a large garbage bag, (about 500 pouches) Ms. Castagna drives them to Shadow Lake when she comes to work there.

Mrs. White, Mrs. Chase, and Green Team members squeeze out the leftover juice, flatten the pouches, push the straws in so they don’t puncture the bag and leak, and put them into stacks of 10 for easy counting. Then Mrs.Chase and Mrs.White pack 100 pouches into gently-used gallon-size Ziploc bags (100 in each gallon bag). These 100-count bags are then placed in a very large box for shipping.

When the count reaches over 45 lbs or around 3,000 juice pouches, Mrs. White or Mrs. Chase transport the boxes to the nearest UPS store and ship the oversized boxes to TerraCycle in New Jersey. Once there, TerraCycle workers can turn the used juice pouches into backpacks, pencil cases, benches, fences, bags, and many more upcycled products that you can buy online at Dwellsmart! Need a unique gift for someone special and help your environment at the same time--check out Dwellsmart!  

Our compliments to Shadow Lake and Lake Wilderness for their excellent work as collaborative workers!

Guest Post by Cara L. and Kyle S.
Shadow Lake Elementary Green Team

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's Definitely Worth It! - Emmons Glacier

Hiking is not my cup of tea.  The majesty of the mountains and nature is rather lost on me. Maybe I have been slightly desensitized from all the dramatic documentaries of ‘fantastic worldly places’ I have seen and slightly jaded from movies like Avatar.  Nature is not as endearing as it once was. Hikes had become rather mundane, especially when flying dragons and light-up mushrooms are a click away.
Emmons was a bit different. It was beautiful. The trail curved around almost vertical streams. They were transfixing; the white water was vastly different from the shades of green that surrounded it. The river itself was completely different from every other river I had seen. I had not seen a more photogenic scene in my life.
The water was almost white and running at a leisurely pace through the ravine. It was nestled in between the moraines, the rocks piled from Emmons movement. Oddly enough, it looked like milk running through the rocks.
Colors clashed around the trail, from the tan-browns of the rocks, piled and loose, to the striking white of the ice and water. Around the trail is a sea of green trees, their pointed tips waving to the stark blue of the summer skies. Upon close inspection, hikers can find small creatures going about their business in the trees.
Emmons is receding. The ablation zone grows larger with every year. The ecological repercussions of the slow loss of Emmons are…distressing. We are losing the glacier and the river it provides. But it leaves a picture-perfect ravine and reveals dusty rock that is gorgeous.
While it lasts, Emmons will provide the White River with water year round, becoming a haven for native species like the Bull Trout and Coastal Cutthroat Trout. Somehow thinking of White River as a home for the creatures makes it more beautiful.
 Anyone who is not sure if they want to take the drive to hike Emmons should go. The White River is worth seeing, just for the sake of being fiercely unique. It is in a category all its own. Emmons may disappear before most of us do. Going up to experience it before it’s gone is a better weekend plan than I have heard in a long time. 

Guest Post by Global Academy Student, Lauren D.    

Global Academy Hikes Emmons Glacier

In September, our class took a trip to the Emmons Glacier.  If you don’t know what a glacier is, the article given to us before the trip says they are “perennial masses of ice that are large enough and heavy enough to flow, like a very thick fluid.”  The hike to the view point we were heading towards was only about a mile long.  On our way we saw beautiful streams and waterfalls, along with gorgeous and lush greenery.  While hiking, I thought to myself, “If this is just the hike, I wonder what the view from our stopping point will be like?”
One mishap we did have was that half of our class missed the turn we were supposed to take and ended up traveling up the trail for another mile or so.  Poor Mr. Collette, the new Global Academy English teacher, had the pleasure of running all the way up to the top just to find the kids that had strayed from the path.  The groups that got lost didn’t get a chance to view the valley.  We stood on the lateral moraine, a ledge/ridge that’s along the side of the glacier, looking into the valley.  We saw the lake which was filled with glacial melt, evidentially named Glacier Lake, just below us.  The water was such a pure blue that it almost looked unrealistic. I, just a novice hiker, was not aware of the things you can see from spots like that.
Our group, the students that didn’t get lost, was very lucky to see something like this now because it won’t last forever.  The glacier is retreating more and more each year.  The valley we saw was where the glacier had passed through.  We visited the glacier while it’s in its “ablation season,” the time when the glacier loses more of its ice than it gains, which begins around June and ends near September.  Overall, this hiking field trip was a blast and I would recommend making the hike to see the valley and lake. It was well worth it and the trail is just as beautiful.

Guest Post by Caroline M., Global Academy Student

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tahoma Food Service - Awesome Sustainability Support

Salad Bar at the High School Featured
Produce from the Global Academy Garden

The Tahoma Food Service has taken some amazing strides over the last year plus in supporting the sustainability efforts of our students, staff and district.  From redoing the menus on Wednesdays to focus on finger foods and things that would support our Green Teams in Waste Free Wednesdays, to adding more fresh fruits and produce to the choices for students.  The efforts of these amazing staff just keep showing up.  

At all the teacher leadership meetings we used to use bottled water.  Now food service brings pitchers and re-usable plastic cups for water self-service throughout the day.  We have also changed from morning treats of muffins to fresh cut apples and cheese.  Healthy and great tasting!  Our food service staff is amazing.  

In a recent announcement they have moved to compostable cutlery for both breakfast and lunch service starting Monday, November 4th!  

Starting on Monday, November 4, 2013
Compostable Cutlery for both Breakfast and Lunch Service

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tahoma Makes a Difference!

Restoring the THS Rain Garden

On October 26th, 2013, it was “Make a Difference day” in Maple Valley. As a responsible citizen, I worked with the Tahoma High School Green Team from 9am to 12pm to restore the Rain Garden in the THS parking lot. We began with compost soil delivered to the high school parking lot at 9am, which is when the team got to work! We had the game plan of spreading and evening out all of the soil, making sure it didn’t cover the puddles or rocks so that the plants we were going to put in would be safe. We shoveled dirt for hours, and eventually were able to get all of the dirt placed and spread it around. After all of the soil was evenly distributed, myself and the team took about 30 plants donated by a nursery in Black Diamond and planted them in the garden. By planting these native species, it means that the garden will be even more self-sustaining, and support a healthier environment in the garden. It was a very large task, thankfully with a team of myself and 8 other people, we were able to get it done in 3 hours!

By contributing to planting the THS rain garden, I was able to do a hands on project that directly benefitted the school and environment. The High School is a large part of our community, and being able to make a difference for both visually pleasing and eco friendly benefits is certainly a demonstration of being a responsible citizen. Having assisted research on the native species we decided to plant, I fully understand the benefits of what the project was all about. To create an ecosystem in a busy parking lot that will thrive and prevent storm water pollution. Having Mrs.Nance and my fellow Green Team members to teach and guide one another, it was not only a great hands-on experience but a great learning experience as well. I learned how to apply these values of being local and sustainable to my lifestyle, and carry on these habits to form lifelong habits that will benefit me. Overall, the garden looks beautiful and has a function for our school!

Thanks to Kylin F., TSHS Green Team Leader for the Post

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Commitment to Action!

Last year Camp Snowball grounded me to reality in terms of sustainability. This year it has taught me how to move forward with my ideas. There are so many visionaries in the world, yet very few people know how to push forward. That is a vital skill that I learned this year. I was in the module focused on innovation. This module prompted me to look into the future and see where I could improve and innovate on the world. But then I had to actually draft plans with budgets and clarify my detailed step-by-step actions. This really taught me the difference between talking-the-talk and walking-the-talk. I now know how to go about building a better reputation for the Green Team and ensuring success for the Waste Free Wednesdays.

Post by Student Leader Jayaram

Friday, July 26, 2013

Inspiration from Innovation

The most interesting part of the day was the opening when we got to hear Nancy Conrad talk about her program and how it connects to systems thinking. We also got to talk with two of her students and hear about their work of innovation. It was amazing to see the difference in view that we have in what we are interested in under the same category. The difference I noticed most was the audience we were directing our ideas to. They had a product that measured the air quality, so there for their audience was people that have breathing medical issue. On the other hand our product you may say was not a physical object but a rather idea or program. This experience opened my mind and helped me realize how many different topics fall under the topic of innovation. This was the highlight of my day and something that I truly connected with

Post by Student Leader Madlin