The Gideon Hausner Recycling & Environmental Education Network was founded and managed by Valerie Gardner in 2005 to engage students and parents in the elementary/middle school in learning more about their environmental impacts. GHREEN developed a number of programs for the school community, which instituted recycling of all waste streams at the school, including composting food waste. GHREEN goals included:
- Teach Students More about Environmental Issues in Age-Appropriate Ways. Although many classes currently discuss the environment and touch on various environmental subjects and facts (like the Rainforest, Baylands and loss of animal species), we hope to address the subject of the impact man is having on the environment more broadly and touch on many of the topics that pertain to everyday life, including trash, composting, recycling, closing the recycling loop, water conservation, waste reduction, storm water run-off, local endangered species, and other subjects. Through these weekly topics, we will more directly teach students about how their choices impact the environment.
- Reinforce Existing Instincts for Good Earth Stewardship and Provide Opportunities for Students to Solve Problems Themselves. Through various activities and programs (described below) like the environmental bulletins, the Earth Day Celebration, and special contests and awards, students will have opportunities for increasing their understanding and then working together to solve the challenges facing the school and their communities. They will be asked to figure out how to improve on the existing processes—and thus they will have opportunities to think creatively and act pro-actively about addressing some of the problems (and be supported in their endeavors).
- Improve the School’s Recycling, Waste & Energy Conservation Performance and Reduce Overall Costs. Starting with an assessment of how the school is performing, we will strive to improve the performance of the school community with respect to its level of recycling, its creation of garbage, and its use of energy, which will bring down the costs of such activities to the community. Rather than merely handing students new rules, however, students will be instrumental in helping to problem solve around each of these areas (with adult guidance). Thus, a major goal is the total overhaul of how we “do” garbage at the school—but the actual design of the new recycling program will come from the students involved in Ghreen, with help from the adults.
- Greater Environmental Awareness in School Planning Processes. Bringing environmental awareness to all the school’s planning activities—whether designing the new buildings, adapting curriculum or planning parent coffees, environmental awareness will help produce better results overall and take Hausner from a position being “behind the curve” to one of being “ahead of the curve.”