At Princeton Montessori School we are working to meet shared goals that engage various constituents of our community. This year there were five new committees formed to engage a cross-constituency of our community to brainstorm, research, plan, and take action toward intended outcomes in several key areas. One of those is the Environmental Stewardship Committee.
The Environmental Stewardship Committee at Princeton Montessori School is made up of staff, students, and parents. During this initial year, the Committee members talked about things that could be done for the school to become more environmentally friendly and more healthy for Princeton Montessori School’s community and for the planet.
After some research, the Committee has chosen to work toward the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA Awards. This program is a framework that allows the school to identify areas that could be improved in terms of sustainability and to plan action steps that can help.
After forming the Committee, the next step in the process was to do an environmental audit of the school. Some key findings are as follows:
- While most areas of the school have recycling bins, there are not always enough for the different materials and there seems to be confusion among students and staff about what can be recycled.
- There is pick up of recyclables via Somerset County.
- Recycling must be sorted between paper and other items (plastics, metals, glass, etc).
- There is some degree of environmental awareness education throughout most of the programs.
- Compost is collected daily from the various areas of the school.
- The school’s garden is used often in the growing season and compost from the school is used to fertilize it.
- There are several disposable items that are used throughout the year that could be reduced, eliminated or replaced with reusable items.
- There is room for student education about the environment in which the school resides, as well as the effects that students choices have on the larger environment.
Based on the data that was collected, the Committee chose a “Pathway” to work on to plan action steps that can be taken to improve some aspects of the school to make them more environmentally friendly. The Committee has chosen to focus on Consumption and Waste and will begin developing action steps in the coming weeks. The questions that the Committee will be looking into are:
- How can we, as waste managers, raise awareness of the life cycle of products at our school and how they impact our local economy?
- How can we, as members of the community, work with the city to create recycling and compost pick up or if our community has these programs how can we make them more efficient or accessible?
- How can we, as materials scientists, design products that address waste reduction and consumption habits for school and home?
- How can we, as mechanical engineers, design a machine that recycles community materials that can be sold to companies that use post‐consumer products to create new products?
As the Committee proceeds, the school’s website will be updated to show its progress. Stay tuned!