Miller Street Elementary School Awarded Eco-Schools USA Bronze Award - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Miller Street Elementary School Awarded Eco-Schools USA Bronze Award

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SOURCE National Wildlife Federation

PSEG Volunteers Lend a Hand in School Clean Up Efforts

NEWARK, N.J., June 26, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Students at the Miller Street Elementary School are getting creative with their trash, turning everyday disposable items into art! Their efforts in reducing waste and consumption through recycling and upcycling has earned them the Bronze Award with National Wildlife Federation's Eco-Schools USA program. This international program recognizes and provides free resources to schools integrating sustainability into the curriculum and on school grounds. 

Miller Street Elementary joined Eco-Schools USA in 2013.  This free and voluntary program has been gaining popularity in the garden state with 117 schools registered throughout New Jersey, up from just 43 last year. To win the Bronze Award schools establish an Eco-Team, conduct an environmental audit, develop an Eco-Action plan, evaluate and monitor the plan and include the community.  

In Miller Street Elementary School's case, the community includes PSEG whose headquarters reside in downtown Newark.  30 PSEG volunteers from the company's GROW program joined Eco-Schools staff in helping the Newark school with a school grounds clean-up, upcycling project, and art project. Students created and decorated reusable grocery bags out of old t-shirts donated by PSEG, and were able to bring them home to reduce the need for plastic bags.  Following the activities students were given wooden boards, cardboard, and paints to create signs for the school grounds that showed people how it felt to contribute to a clean school. These signs remind the larger community to put their waste in the proper place.  PSEG Foundation is a major funder of the Eco-Schools USA program in New Jersey. 

Curtis Fisher, northeast regional executive director, National Wildlife Federation says, "Eco-Schools USA commends the students and staff of Miller Street Elementary School and PSEG volunteers on their efforts to improve their school and their community.  When we work together, we can accomplish great things."

Through the Eco-Schools program, schools select from ten environmental focus areas or pathways to work on such as energy efficiency, biodiversity, and sustainable foods.  This year Miller Street Academy focused on the consumption and waste pathway.  In addition to the school clean-up day with PSEG, Miller Street Students are also working on purchasing less items that will ultimately consume waste and continue to look for new ways to upcycle trash into useful items and art projects. These tasks earned the school a grant from the Wrigley's Litter Less Campaign.  This Campaign, coordinated by Eco-Schools with the support of the Wrigley Company Foundation, aims to help schools engage in recycling and waste reduction efforts. 

"Upcycling projects like these give students a chance to express themselves creatively while providing valuable learning experiences that benefit the environment," says Jennifer Dowd, Eco-Schools NJ Coordinator, New Jersey Audubon.

There are 9 Eco-Schools in Essex County including Miller Street Elementary School, East Side High School, Greater Newark Charter School, H.B. Whitehorne Middle School, Maria L. Varisco Rogers Charter School, Millburn Middle School, Montclair Kimberly Academy, Philips Academy Charter School, and Watchung School.

About Eco-Schools
Eco-Schools is an international program in 59 countries. The program, hosted by the National Wildlife Federation in the United States, and coordinated by New Jersey Audubon in New Jersey now has 117 schools registered throughout the state.  Eco-Schools USA in New Jersey supports and directly aligns with Sustainable Jersey for Schools point-based system.  With support from PSE&G, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Horizon Foundation, and Spencer Savings Bank Eco-Schools USA is able to provide a staff person on the ground to help New Jersey schools reach their goals.  For more information:

Jessica Brown
National Wildlife Federation

Jennifer Dowd
New Jersey Audubon


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