Whittier Elementary
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Green Team

Landfills are filling up, garbage incineration is unpopular, and other wastedisposal options are becoming harder to find. Over half of our waste stream isorganic material that could be composted.
On average, a school of 400 students generates 150 pounds of compostablewaste each week, or over 6,000 pounds per year. By composting at school,we can reduce landfill waste and educate students about the importance ofresource conservation and composting.
The PTO Green Team began lunchroom composting through the Village of Oak Park's CompostAble program last winter. The kids can compost all food scraps (including meat and dairy), soiled paper, and even their tray at every lunch period, diverting at least four bags of trash from the waste stream each day. The Village is providing supplies and pickup.
Talk to your kids about the benefits of composting at school. Encourage Waste Free Lunch – Replace disposable plastics, straws,baggies with a reusable container or bag. The class with the most wastefree lunches wins the prestigious Golden Lunchbox award!

Whittier kids make a video for Earth Day 2012!

 Check it out!!!


  • Golden Lunch Box - On the last Wednesday of every month, the Green Team holds a lunchtime contest to see which lunch period can produce the least amount of waste.  See if you can meet the challenge and pack a waste free lunch for your student(s)!
  • Recycle Used-Up Art and Office Supplies at Whittier -Bring your dried out markers and pens, pencil stubs and other used art supplies to the drop off box at the Whittier lobby recycling center.  All items will be properly recycled through the City of Chicago's Green Office Challenge.
  •  Recycle empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls at Whittier  - We'll take them to Wonderworks Children's Museum where they will be reused for various projects
  • Green Product Sales- The Green Team is selling school supplies via Green Home Experts (www.ghexperts.com). 
  • Waste Free Lunches- One of the easiest ways for our students to help Whittier become a zero waste school is to pack a waste free lunch and snack every day they bring one to school.  Learn more at www.wastefreelunches.org.  Have your family go green this school year and start packing a waste free lunch!
  • Enhanced Recycling at Whittier – You can recycle a variety of items that you cannot put in your curbside bin at our recycling center in the school’s lobby. We accept cell phones, printer cartridges, and corks.  Bring them to school and let us help you keep these items out of our landfills.


Green Resources/Links










A Kid's Guide to Recycling


Exploring Nature:




Responsible Consumption:



Waste Free Lunches:









Worm Composting:


Backyard and Urban Gardening:

www.root-riot.com  (click on resources section)

Sustainable Food









® Recycling Program!

Here's an easy way to help Whittier & be GREEN at the same time! Just bring in your empty printer cartridges (inkjet and laser) and used cell phones to the recycling center in Whittier's lobby and we’ll take it from there. We will recycle the cartridges and cell phones through FundingFactory to earn new technology and/or recreational equipment or cash.  Click here for more information and to learn about how you can get your employer or business to help too!

The Green Team is a group of parents and teachers who work together to make Whittier a more environmentally-sustainable school.  The Green Team is dedicated to educating Whittier’s students about the importance of living within the Earth’s natural limits.

All are invited to participate in our meetings and activities.  Contact Tammy Adkins, Mary Furman or Caroline Baker for additional information. We welcome your ideas and positive energy, whether it is for a day, event or the year! 

The Green Team’s mission is to help Whittier Elementary School become environmentally responsible in every aspect of its operation. By teaching Whittier’s students to be good stewards of their school community, the earth, and its resources, we strive to educate the next generation of leaders to make a difference in improving the environment for all humanity.

Green Team Goals:

  1. To move toward becoming a waste free school by promoting the conservation principles of reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink.
  2. To create a future generation of environmental leaders by involving students in Green Team activities and decisions and by encouraging Whittier’s existing educational programming to incorporate lessons on ecological sustainability, environmental health, and personal responsibility where appropriate.
  3. To promote the sustainable use of resources by advocating for energy efficiency and resource conservation in the school.
  4. To support and advocate for a school environment as free as possible from toxic substances or harmful chemicals.
  5. To develop a schoolyard garden program.
  6. To urge the wider school community – parents, students, teachers, and administration – to embrace sustainable living practices.

In implementing its Mission and working toward fulfilling its Goals, the Green Team has focused its efforts on two areas: supporting classroom use of the Greenleaf Garden and striving to become a Zero Waste School. 


The Greenleaf Garden

In April 2009, Green Team members and other parent volunteers built the Greenleaf Garden on the northside of the school, near the preschool playground.  The garden features six raised beds where Whittier’s students can grow organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs.  It also includes a pumpkin patch and two perennial gardens.  The garden allows children to learn about the lifecycle of plants, and where their food comes from by growing it themselves.  The garden is pesticide and fertilizer free, and features a yard waste composting system and rain barrels.  The garden will also be a showcase for kid-generated art using materials that would otherwise be landfilled.

Zero Waste School

A zero waste school structures its practices to generate the bare minimum of trash.  Why?  It’s good for the Earth and for our bottom line.  The school saves money by purchasing less paper products and paying less in waste hauling costs.  Our school community minimizes its consumption of the Earth’s scarce resources. The Green Team helps Whittier move toward zero waste status by promoting the conservation principles of reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink.  

Among other things, this includes:

Waste Free Lunches and Snacks – The Green Team promotes waste free lunches and snacks.  A waste free lunch includes reusable containers instead of plastic baggies or pre-packaged single-serve items, a thermos instead of throwaway juiceboxes or single-use water bottles, cloth napkins instead of paper, and reusable silverware instead of plastic.

School-wide recycling – There are blue bins in every classroom and throughout the school for recycling.  Anything you can recycle at home in Oak Park can also be recycled at Whittier.  In addition, you can recycle cell phones, printer cartridges, and corks at our lobby recycling center.

Paper Re-Use – There are bins for every classroom and office to collect paper for re-use on the other side.  Classrooms use this paper again or it is collected and made into note pads at the District print shop.

One-sided copying and printing policies – Whittier’s policy is for all teachers and staff to make double-sided copies and to print on both sides of the paper whenever feasible. When you are helping out in the classroom, or making copies for the PTO, please make double-sided copies when you can.

Lunchroom Recycling – Children can recycle milk cartons,plastic water bottles, and other recyclable containers in the lunchroom.Tell your kids to look for the big blue bins.

Composting – Many classrooms have worm chalet composting bins to re-use their fruit and vegetable waste from snack time.  In addition, there is a food waste composter in the school courtyard. The four K-1 classrooms feed this composter with any leftover scraps from their daily, communal fruit and vegetable snack. In 2012, we plan to tap into the new village efforts at food scrap composting in the lunchroom. 

Green Fundraising – The Green Team sells products that help our school community go waste free.  Currently, we are selling Chico bags and Whittier Wildcat stainless steel water bottles. In 2012, we provided an option to purchase complete sets of green school supplies via an alliance with Green Home Experts, a local business. A portion of these proceeds benefit the PTO.

Classroom Dishes –The Green Team purchased reusable dishes and cloth napkins for every classroom teacher who wanted them.  The dishes are used for classroom parties and snacks instead of disposables.

Hand Driers – The Green Team received grant money from the State of Illinois to install six new hand driers in our most heavily trafficked bathrooms.  The hand driers have significantly cut down on the school’s paper towel use

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