Green Teams Celebration

In late May 2024, RethinkWaste hosted the second annual San Mateo County Green Team Celebration! The event took place on a cheerful, sunny, spring afternoon at Beresford Elementary in San Mateo. Nearly a hundred students, parents, teachers, and school administrators all gathered to eat, play, and most importantly – recognize the dedicated work of the superstar students who take part in their school’s green team. 

You may be wondering… what is a green team? Green teams are an alliance of students who come together, with the direction of a school teacher or administrator, to tackle their school’s waste issues. The roles of the green team vary by school, but some typical tasks include keeping the campus litter-free and ensuring that waste is being properly sorted using the three bin system (compost, recycling, landfill). RethinkWaste’s Environmental Education Team helps train students to guide their peers in proper waste management and supports green teams by providing gear and materials at no cost. 

At this year’s Green Team celebration, RethinkWaste invited three green teams from schools in the County to present, including two from RethinkWaste’s service area, about their work. The schools represented were College Park Elementary (San Mateo), Fiesta Gardens International School (San Mateo), and Green Hills Elementary (Millbrae). Students spoke about what they have been working on during the past year, the challenges they face, and some personal anecdotes. It was deeply inspiring to hear from the students themselves about their passion for keeping their communities green. 

Students presenting from College Park Elementary

The representatives from College Park Elementary discussed how they educated their school through waste-focused assemblies and helped their peers sort during lunch time. Importantly, they discussed some of the most common mistakes they encounter while doing lunch bin monitoring. One major issue discussed is how there are many different types of trays the school-provided food comes on, and how it can be difficult for students to differentiate what trays go into which bins. 

Students presenting from Fiesta Gardens International School

The students from Fiesta Gardens International School answered several questions regarding their green team, including how it got started and their favorite parts of being on the team. A standout section of the presentation was when the students spoke about how being on the green team fosters a sense of community. A couple of students discussed how they made friends on their green team and that they enjoy working together to achieve the shared goal of helping the planet. 

Students presenting from Green Hills Elementary

The team members from Green Hills Elementary gave an overview of the different projects they worked on throughout the school year. The students talked about the compost pile in their school garden, in addition to how they conserve water and energy while at school. A highlight from this presentation was the discussion about the share table. The share table program is a method of food waste prevention offered by San Mateo County Environmental Health. Students place unwanted, uneaten, edible food on the “share table” instead of throwing it in the compost or garbage. Any student is welcome to pick something up off the share table if they would like to eat it. This way, students can ensure they have enough to eat during the day while preventing edible food from entering the waste stream. 

We wrapped up our Green Team Celebration by playing a round of waste bingo, painting pots, planting succulents, and eating snow cones! Our team at RethinkWaste is super thankful for all the work put in by our students, parents, teachers, and community partners to make this event possible. You can stay updated with all our future events by following RethinkWaste on social media. And if your child has expressed interest in keeping the planet clean, we encourage them to join their school’s green team! If your child’s school doesn’t have a green team and your school is located in the RethinkWaste service area (Burlingame to East Palo Alto), reach out to a RethinkWaste Environmental Education team member about starting one. We look forward to seeing you next year!