Jamestown Elementary: Green Star School

Barbara Lawlor

Jamestown Elementary may be one of the smallest schools in Boulder County, but it is the mightiest when it comes to recycling. Last Thursday, Nov. 29, the mountain school received the prestigious Green Star Award from Eco-Cycle, which was a really big deal for the Jamestown students.
Only schools that can prove they are Zero-waste can qualify for winning the award. Perhaps the most industrious element of Jamestown’s recycle program is the on-site worm bin for school food scraps, all of the kitchen leftovers.
A representative from Eco-Cycle presented the Green Star award, and Green Girl Recycling was there to congratulate the staff and students. The ceremony included a visit from Holly Running-Rabbit from Ward who donated the worm bin the students use. She brought worm castings and helped the children make Worm Tea Bags, which they could take home to use to make worm tea for plants. Food scraps are given to the worms each day.
Michelle Melio of Eco-Cycle presented the award to the students and to Jamestown Principal Scott Theobald. Green Girl Recycling was recognized for providing all the recycling and composting service as well as continued education to JES. The program has been recycling for the school for more than 10 years and also helps the Gold Hill School and Nederland schools with their recycling services. 
What makes Jamestown special is that the students have a worm bin at the school, which allows the entire student body of 20 to produce only one pound of trash a day. JES boasts an electricity monitoring program connected to a computer, which teaches the students that every time you turn on a light or increase the heat, more energy is gobbled up. The students can actually see and chart how much energy their school uses.
Jamestown recycles everything, even the hard-to-recycle items like loose plastic bags, Styrofoam block and peanuts. Reuse recycling is encouraged in the school and JES teachers have kids bring mason jars with milk to school, and each child uses personal water bottles to reduce paper cup needs with their reverse osmosis water cooler.
JES teachers are trained each year how to use reusable pouches and packaging for food to reduce the need for single serve containers. JES composts about five pounds a week and feeds the worms double that amount.
In 2011 JES recycled 1,265 pounds of recyclables, equaling nine trees, 35 feet tall; 3,765 gallons of water, enough to fill 7.5 six-person hot tubs; 546 gallons of gas; prevented .63 tons of greenhouse gas emissions; saved 65 gallons of oil; and taught the students valuable lessons for life as they did it.
Student Gavin Johnson said, “I like recycling because it’s a good thing to do.”
Ian Graves said the cool part of composting is feeding the worms, and Elise Williams said, “I recycle at school and help my parents at home.” Mesa-Rose knows the value of recycling by making things out of reused products.
Bridget Johnson, the inspiration behind Green Girl Recycling, is pleased with how her passion has spread. She said: “My favorite quote is from Ghandi who said ‘Be the Change you want to see in the world.’ We are so fortunate to be able to help work with JES helping them get to reach this unique level of zero-waste in a school. Most schools recycle, but JES is going way beyond that step. They are actively thinking about all their waste and taking steps to keep as much out of the landfill as possible. They are teaching our children how to be the very best green stewards possible, which is really where our society will see the most positive changes moving forward.  I feel so lucky to recycle and compost for this school as well as have my oldest son Gavin attending as a first-grader this year.” 
Probably the person responsible for the school’s success is Beth Brotherton, who works hard in the cafeteria overseeing the children in putting the ‘right things’ with recyclables and compostables. She is the school’s official ‘worm keeper,’ a much coveted title.