Palo Alto Weekly
Cover Story - October 7, 2011
The greening of Palo Alto schools
Parents, teachers and kids boost bicycling rates and 'zero waste' lunch packing
Palo Alto schools — often led by parent volunteers — have made systematic efforts to save energy and reduce waste over the years. Initiatives range from "zero waste" lunches to promotion of bicycling to a new program aimed at slashing schools' utility bills. As schools this week celebrate human-powered transportation through "Walk & Roll Week," the Palo Alto Weekly took a broader look at the greening of local schools.
Behind many of the initiatives is Palo Alto mediator Walter Hays, grandson of the Walter Hays for whom the elementary school is named and a grandfather himself. The "Sustainable Schools Committee" that Hays has led since 2003 has become a hub for individual school "Green Teams" comprised of volunteer parents, teachers and students at Palo Alto's 17 campuses.
As kids absorb environmental practices such as composting at school, they often take the knowledge home.
"Sometimes the kids are really the key in helping the parents learn new habits," said Federica Armstrong, a parent and volunteer at Walter Hays Elementary School.