County honors Southwood for recycle program

Southwood Elementary School is one of 42 King County schools to earn recognition for its recycling and resource conservation efforts from the county’s Green Schools Program.

The schools completed level one of the program by initiating or improving recycling practices and engaging in waste reduction strategies like decreasing paper use.

The King County Green Schools Program, which has helped more than 250 schools cut waste and save resources since its inception in 2003, provides hands-on assistance, recycling containers and stickers and the support that schools need to set up and maintain effective, long-lasting conservation practices.

“Each of these 42 schools has involved its whole school community – students, teachers, administrators – in reducing garbage, increasing recycling and improving other conservation practices,” said Dale Alekel, King County Green Schools Program manager. “When classes resume in September, our program will be there to help the schools complete level two.”

Level two of the program includes energy conservation plus an additional conservation category that each school selects from the following list: environmental education, environmental purchasing, green building, hazardous materials management, litter reduction, or transportation choices. Schools that go on to the third and final level of the program add water conservation, plus an additional selection from the list above.

Alekel said many participating schools and districts report cuts in operating expenses after reducing garbage disposal costs by setting up successful waste reduction and recycling practices and from reducing energy and water use.

Participation in the program has grown. To date, 10 of King County’s 18 school districts have received assistance or are participating.

Thanks to the King County Green Schools Program, hundreds of schools are recycling more than 40 percent of their solid waste and 25 schools are recycling food scraps. The program received a Recycler of the Year award from the Washington State Recycling Association.

In addition to providing schools with the hands-on help they need, the program offers a Web site,, with helpful tools and resources. Schools interested in improving their conservation practices and receiving assistance can contact Alekel at

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