Over the years, Altadena has become well-known for its drive towards community development, sustainability efforts, and “green” living. Altadena residents have either founded or been a major contributor to various local organizations committed to healthy, community living. RIPE (Ripe In-Season Produce Exchange, formerly COFEA) was founded by Altadena local Gail Murphy and facilitates the exchange of local backyard farmers’ excess organically grown produce as well as providing related educational workshops. Arroyo Food Coop is on a mission to establish a co-op in Altadena and the Altadena Community Garden teaches community members not only about gardening but about composting, water conservation, and land preservation. The Arroyo Time Bank singularly and in joint efforts with other local Altadenans (most notably ) provides ongoing workshops, recycling and reusing efforts (perhaps you bought one of their t-shirt bags at an Altadena Urban Farmer’s Market) and are furthering the effort to establish a permanent Altadena Farmer’s Market. And let’s not forget, probably Altadena’s most famous composting resident, Tim Dundon (a.k.a. Zeke The Sheik, The Sodfather, or self-proclaimed Guru of Doo Doo) who helps many an Altadena garden grow.
It only seems fit then, that Altadena’s own Aveson Charter School has joined the ranks and been awarded The California Green School Leadership Award by the California Green Schools Summit Advisory Board. The California Green School Summit was created to address the unique needs and challenges of this growing sector from funding sources to curriculum. The summit will be held in conjunction with the Green California Community Colleges Summit at the Pasadena Convention Center and is scheduled from Monday, October 17, 2011 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm to Tuesday, October 18th from 9:00 am – 1:30 pm. The award will be presented during the Green Leadership Awards Reception on Monday, October 17th from 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm at the Pasadena Convention Center. Along with some popular “green” exhibitors, the summit will offer educational seminars and programs focused on the challenges schools face in their effort for improved efficiency and positive environmental impact.
Aveson School of Leaders (ASL), an Altadena based K-5 public charter school, is the most recent school that has teamed up with Waste Less Living, Inc., a local environmental company specializing in zero waste consulting and organics recovery. In collaboration with Waste Less Living, the school's all-volunteer Green Environment Action Team (GREAT) spearheaded by Aveson parent Debrah Lemattre, have instituted various initiatives around campus. Projects have ranged from designing and building a recycling center on campus known as the ARC, introducing monthly recycling drives, coordinating e-waste drives, switching to reusable trays and utensils for their hot lunch program to implementing Waste Less Living's signature Organics Recovery Program (ORP) campus wide. Their recycling efforts have generated revenue for the school while the ORP has made a significant improvement in how they manage their waste. Students have reported upwards of an 88% organics recovery rate all destined for composting…not landfilling. Lemattre is hoping to instill similar initiatives at Aveson’s 6-12 grade campus, Aveson Global Leadership Academy (AGLA), now that it has .
In addition to the ARC and ORP, the campus Gardening Team and Culinary Arts Department are developing a partnership with sustainability in mind. Parents who head these departments as well as the Maintenance Team seek methods for repurposing and reusing materials around campus. For example, reusing paint that has been discarded at local hardware stores and obtaining cardboard “trash” for use in the garden. Additionally, the school has begun the process to join a local, organic produce delivery service.
“Aveson is a great example of school-wide, community-wide sustainability efforts and creating a green culture," said Racquel Palmese, Managing Editor of Green Technology, the producers of the Summit.
The “green” programs are intended to respond to an ever-increasing concern over trash and landfills and their direct impact on the environment. Aveson parent and founder of Waste Less Living, Ms. Christine Lenches-Hinkel, explains, "the purpose of the recycling center and composting program is to put in place a working and daily solution to our waste problem and to offer an opportunity for engagement and environmental action by both the students and parents. Both programs are strategically aligned with the school's teaching philosophy as they foster student involvement and participation as well as real life learning experiences that are solution driven." And the students are getting involved. Parents report children encouraging composting and recycling at home and more awareness of what their waste means to their environment. Currently, classrooms are “competing” during a school-wide recycling drive and it is not a rare sight to see children as young as 5 picking up trash and placing it in the appropriate receptacle.
Kate Bean, Executive Director of Aveson Charter Schools proudly asserts, "The Aveson Recycling Center and Waste Less Living Program are excellent examples of what can happen when schools involve parents through their passions and strengths. Debrah and Christine are leading the Aveson vision of healthy living by engaging and educating students and families in our campaign to take care of the Earth".
Waste Less Living will be an exhibitor at the California Green Schools Summit. For more information on the Organics Recovery Program and the products and services Waste Less Living provides, contact Christine Lenches-Hinkel, Founder/CEO at 626-786-5947 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Aveson School of Leaders GREAT and how you can start a recycling program at your school, contact Debrah Lemattre at 626-797-1451/323-428-8379 or email@example.com
Lemattre jokes, “if Aveson is the greenest school in California, and California is the greenest state and the United States is leading in green…then doesn’t that mean we are the greenest school in the country…in the world?” That research is beyond my scope, but it is a fact that Aveson and other local schools are putting in the effort to make their environment...their community...their world a better place. And although their attempts are not for recognition, it is a significant achievement to be recognized as the “greenest school in California”. Come to the Summit and see how you and your school can join in the movement for the betterment of our world. And that’s no joke.