Tahoma High students work to be waste free

The Tahoma School District launched a Waste Free Wednesday program Feb. 6 led by each school’s sustainability ambassadors.

The Tahoma School District launched a Waste Free Wednesday program Feb. 6 led by each school’s sustainability ambassadors.

Waste Free Wednesdays are a district-wide effort to eliminate waste from lunch by encouraging students to bring their lunch in reusable containers instead of plastic bags and by recycling and composting.

Tahoma High started a composting program during the last school year to help keep waste out of local landfills.

“We’ve been doing a lot of outreach to inform, especially with the composting,” Cassandra Houghton, a senior at Tahoma High and president of the sustainability ambassadors, said. “In doing the outreach we thought we should do a day, a couple of schools were already doing it and we decided to have a district-wide day.”

The ambassadors will promote the program and each month will hold a raffle with prizes that will include gift cards to local restaurants and stores, Houghton said.

The kick off included games during lunches where students competed against one another to see who could sort a pile of typical lunchtime trash into the appropriate categories – compost, recycling or garbage – and a booth to inform students about the benefits of going waste free.

“We’re trying to keep as much trash as we can out of garbage cans,” Esmay Jackson, a senior and member of the sustainability ambassadors, said. “Recycling is really easy to do.”

Jackson offered some tips on ways to reduce waste like using a cloth napkin, bringing salads and other items in reusable plastic or glass containers and using cloth sandwich bags.

In addition to Waste Free Wednesdays, this year the sustainability ambassadors at Tahoma High are working towards helping the school achieve level three of the King County Green Schools program. Level three focuses on water conservation and pollution prevention.

“It (the program) encourages schools to be waste free,” Houghton said.

Houghton said she got involved with the ambassadors because she wanted to help students see, appreciate and protect the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

“Being put in a leadership position you take on the responsibility,” Houghton said.

Jackson joined the sustainability ambassadors at the end of her junior year after doing a road cleanup project with her science class and seeing the difference students could make.

“They (ambassadors) weren’t trying to make us into tree huggers,” Jackson said. “They have good, reasonable tips.”

Reach Katherine Smith ksmith@covingtonreporter.com or 425-432-1209 ext. 5052.