Weilenmann School of Discovery continues efforts to reduce waste | ParkRecord.com

Weilenmann School of Discovery continues efforts to reduce waste

Teaching and practicing sustainability has always been a key component of the Weilenmann School of Discovery. Now, it is taking it up a notch.

Within the last year, the school streamlined its recycling program with separated bins and initiated composting with its food waste, said Cindy Phillips, executive director. Soon, it will launch an idle-free campaign to stop idling at the school.

The school, which is in its eighth year of operation, has made changes each year to be more sustainable — such as removing disposable materials from the cafeteria. Part of the reason is because a rigorous outdoor education curriculum is part of the school's mission and vision. Phillips said that teaching kids how to conserve and preserve is part of that.

She said that it is important to show the students how to reduce their waste by being an example.

"One of our missions at our school is to give them 21st century skills that will allow them to innovate and change the world," she said. "If they haven't practiced that at their school, it's a meaningless mantra. Instead, we teach students something that is important and let them be accountable for it."

After learning about sustainability, students often come up with ideas and plans to be green, such as installing hand driers in the bathrooms rather than paper towel dispensers, she said.

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"The students push us," she said. "Outdoor education has taught them that this is important and they want to do better."

In some of their classes, students design sustainability projects. Phillips said that she hopes to fund and implement some of them in the future.

The school also recently launched a fundraiser to sell LED light bulbs donated by a parent who works for Willdan Energy Solutions in Salt Lake City. The company donated 12,000 40- or 60-watt dimmable bulbs to the school, said Heidi Davidson, development director of the school.

The goal is to sell them before school gets out on June 7. All the money will go toward the annual fund, 66 percent of which goes to teacher salaries and benefits, Davidson said.

The Weilenmann School of Discovery installed its own LED lights with the help of a grant from Rocky Mountain Power a few years ago. Now, Davidson said that it wants to help the community be more sustainable by using the bulbs the school is selling.

"We're hoping that it's a win-win for everyone," she said.

They are also raising money by collecting old ink cartridges, cell phones and laptops and recycling them.

Phillips said that more changes will likely come soon, such as adding to the existing solar panels the school has or purchasing a dishwasher to reduce water waste.

"We have been committed from the beginning to a greener school," she said. "Each year we have moved the needle on that. We are really pleased."

Those interested in purchasing the light bulbs can do so at the school from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost per bulb depends on the amount purchased.