Tag Archives: greening

Our Commitment to Environmental Sustainability

Greetings Prospect Sierra community, near and far! We are committed to environmentally sustainable practices on campus and a curriculum that gives our graduates the tools to be future stewards of our planet. We have been recognized both locally and nationally for these efforts, earning designation as a Green Ribbon School and a Certified Green Business. The following information will orient you to what we do in many different realms to maintain this commitment.

Carbon neutrality

Our school has made a commitment to achieving carbon neutrality in all our operations, including transportation.  We have made great progress in this direction and in 2019-20 we hope to purchase carbon allowances for the first time, to completely offset the carbon pollution we generate. The entire school community can help lower the cost of this by choosing the greenest possible commute options. And beginning last year, through the help of a parent volunteer, we provide a detailed carpool map to facilitate sharing rides.

Waste Management and Reduction


    • Bins in each classroom for paper recycling
    • Bins in each courtyard for paper, cans, plastic
    • See the signs on the bins for more detail
    • Special bins in the faculty lunch room for pens/markers and glue sticks/bottles


    • Bins in each courtyard for all food waste and compostable plates and cutlery

Event Supplies

    • Compostable supplies are available in the Extended Program kitchen at Avis and Multipurpose Room (MPR) kitchen at Tapscott. Faculty use these instead of having families bring them in for classroom and larger events. Cups, bowls, plates, forks, knives, and spoons are all available.
    • Pizza Day; we use plastic plates and students wash them.
    •  Printing; we developed guidelines to reduce paper waste.

Ecoliteracy Curriculum

Ecoliteracy is the ability to understand, appreciate, and care for the natural systems of our planet. The faculty has spent time reflecting on how we incorporate this into our curriculum in each grade and subject area. Sometimes this is through learning directly about environmental issues, and other times the practices of ecoliteracy can be learned or used in contexts with completely different subject matter. Grade level teams often collaborate on how to infuse ecoliteracy into the topics taught in their year.

Green Committees

Faculty and staff have the option of joining the committee that works on supporting and interpreting the goals of our strategic plan. There are committees at each campus that meet monthly.  There is also a very active committee of the PSPA and an umbrella group that meets a few times a year to bring all of these stakeholders together.

Earth Week

Earth Week is celebrated either the week before or the week after Earth Day each year in April.  Activities vary, but in general this is a time when we put an extra emphasis on incorporating ecoliteracy into the curriculum, as well as having special events, guests, presentations, and competitions.

Gardens and Outdoor Learning Environments


  • Two growing areas for food – 6th grade vegetable garden, 8th grade vertical garden.
  • Native pollinator garden – open during recesses and lunch for calm hanging out.
  • Upper Hillside – open once a week during lunch recess for active play.


  • A school garden that is used for both curriculum-connections in science, and as an elective for students in the garden club. Primarily used to grow food plants.
  • Native gardens along the front of the school, in the entranceway near the MPR, in front of the development office, and between the kindergarten yard and staff room.
  • The Tapscott bunnies, Sunset and Midnight, live in the school garden during weekdays and support our ecoliteracy value of developing empathy for all living creatures.


  • Photovoltaic electricity generation includes hundreds of rooftop solar panels on each campus.
  • HVAC has been renovated and is centrally controlled for efficiency.
  • There are soaps and other cleaning supplies available for classroom and kitchen use on both campuses. The products that are stocked are the least toxic options for each category.

Resource Links

Strategic Plan (Priority #6)
Center for Ecoliteracy


Our Commitment to Greening Goes Deep

Prospect Sierra’s 2018 Earth Week began Sunday, April 22, the date celebrated internationally as Earth Day since 1970. Here at Prospect Sierra there are continued efforts to deepen the curriculum and practices around sustainability every day. Earth Week allows us to take pause and acknowledge this year’s projects and share some special events that the kids are spearheading or participating in around environmental issues.

Here are just some of the events that took place on both campuses during Earth Week.


  • Salad Lunch: Students enjoyed a salad lunch made with lettuce grown in the Tapscott garden by 4th graders accompanied by veggies supplied by classmates.
  • Waste-free Lunch Day: Students were encouraged to bring a waste-free lunch, both in terms of contents and packaging.
  • Abby’s Walking School Bus: Students walked to school as a group from Abby’s house in support of finding ways to reduce our carbon footprint.
  • Green Commute Day: Families reduced their transportation carbon footprint during morning drop-offs and afternoon pick-ups by using bart, bus, carpools, walking, or  biking.
  • Fashion Trashion Show: 4th graders designed and produced outfits created out of trash and recycled materials and presented their upcycled, eco-friendly fashion to the school community.
  • Photo Ark: Students contributed to a special collection of photographs to honor animals in our community and think about the connections between animal life and sustainability.


  • Bicycle blended organic smoothies at lunch.
  • Morning meeting conversations around personal choices and the creation of a tree sculpture, which includes sustainability commitments from students and staff.
  • Ecoliteracy work in classrooms around environmental justice, soil health, climate change, plastic ocean pollution, and more.
  • Green Commute Challenge throughout the month of April.

A Quick History of Our Commitment to Sustainability

For over a decade Prospect Sierra has been a school leader in green curriculum and practices.   In 2013 the school was awarded the prestigious U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Award. Prospect Sierra was the only independent school from California, and only one of four California schools that year, to receive the award. After receiving the award the school didn’t stop our work, instead deepening our commitment and becoming an even greener school. We are guided by our 2015-2020 Strategic Plan: “Focus for the Future,” in which one of six core priorities is greening and ecoliteracy.

The school has a faculty green committee, parent sustainability committee, middle school student green committee, elementary student garden club, an overarching Green Council, and vibrant K-8 ecoliteracy programming. These groups do so much work throughout the year and Earth Week is an opportunity to bring these groups together to celebrate all of the environmental efforts of our community.

Below are some of the many sustainability projects undertaken or completed during the 2017-18 school year:

  • Avis pollinator garden: offers opportunities for scientific observation of flower anatomy, seasonality, growth patterns, insect behavior, and more
  • Avis upper hillside yard new platform: furthers the usability of the upper hillside nature area by providing space for outdoor learning or gathering.
  • 6th grade science growing station: allows easy integration of ecoliteracy concepts into curriculum and hands-on-learning.
  • Tapscott vertical garden: creates additional ways to study cultivated vegetation in the garden.
  • Expansion of native garden at front of school as well as near development office at Tapscott.
  • Carpool map: created by 2nd graders for families to use. Students used and learned about maps, along with technology, to create carpool groups based on zip code to help reduce our carbon footprint; connects to 2nd grade curriculum about maps.
  • Avis and Tapscott non-toxic green classroom cleaning supplies: centralized, bulk purchasing of green classroom cleaning products to help reduce students exposure to allergens and chemicals in a uniform manner.
  • Avis and Tapscott bulk compostability closets: centralized, bulk purchasing of compostable event-ware for campus-wide events reducing the schools overall waste.
  • Tapscott backyard produce cart: a place for the PS community to share surplus backyard produce and encourage diverse, healthy eating.
  • Waste-free lunch container bulk purchasing: provides the PS community with centralized, bulk buying of waste-free lunch containers at wholesale prices.

Wondering how you can get involved or want to learn more? The following people are great resources:

As always, thank you for helping us deepen our commitment to caring for the earth all year long!