The Green Team is a group of parents and teachers who work together to make Whittier a more environmentally-sustainable school. The Green Team is dedicated to educating Whittier’s students about the importance of living within the Earth’s natural limits.


All are invited to participate in our meetings and activities. Contact Kristen Holliden for additional information. We welcome your ideas and positive energy, whether it is for a day, event or the year!


The Green Team’s mission is to help Whittier Elementary School become environmentally responsible in every aspect of its operation. By teaching Whittier’s students to be good stewards of their school community, the earth, and its resources, we strive to educate the next generation of leaders to make a difference in improving the environment for all humanity.


Green Team Goals:

  1. To move toward becoming a waste free school by promoting the conservation principles of reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink.
  2. To create a future generation of environmental leaders by involving students in Green Team activities and decisions and by encouraging Whittier’s existing educational programming to incorporate lessons on ecological sustainability, environmental health, and personal responsibility where appropriate.
  3. To promote the sustainable use of resources by advocating for energy efficiency and resource conservation in the school.
  4. To support and advocate for a school environment as free as possible from toxic substances or harmful chemicals.
  5. To develop a schoolyard garden program.
  6. To urge the wider school community – parents, students, teachers, and administration – to embrace sustainable living practices.

In implementing its Mission and working toward fulfilling its Goals, the Green Team has focused its efforts on two areas: supporting classroom use of the Greenleaf Garden and striving to become a Zero Waste School.


The Greenleaf Garden
In April 2009, Green Team members and other parent volunteers built the Greenleaf Garden on the northside of the school, near the preschool playground. The garden features six raised beds where Whittier’s students can grow organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs. It also includes a pumpkin patch and two perennial gardens.


The garden allows children to learn about the lifecycle of plants, and where their food comes from by growing it themselves. The garden is pesticide and fertilizer free, and features a yard waste composting system and rain barrels. The garden will also be a showcase for kid-generated art using materials that would otherwise be landfilled.



Zero Waste School
A zero waste school structures its practices to generate the bare minimum of trash. Why? It’s good for the Earth and for our bottom line. The school saves money by purchasing less paper products and paying less in waste hauling costs. Our school community minimizes its consumption of the Earth’s scarce resources. The Green Team helps Whittier move toward zero waste status by promoting the conservation principles of reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink.


Among other things, this includes:


Waste Free Lunches and Snacks
The Green Team promotes waste free lunches and snacks. A waste free lunch includes reusable containers instead of plastic baggies or pre-packaged single-serve items, a thermos instead of throwaway juiceboxes or single-use water bottles, cloth napkins instead of paper, and reusable silverware instead of plastic.


School-wide recycling
There are blue bins in every classroom and throughout the school for recycling. Anything you can recycle at home in Oak Park can also be recycled at Whittier. In addition, you can recycle cell phones, printer cartridges, and corks at our lobby recycling center.


Paper Re-Use
There are bins for every classroom and office to collect paper for re-use on the other side. Classrooms use this paper again or it is collected and made into note pads at the District print shop.


One-sided copying and printing policies
Whittier’s policy is for all teachers and staff to make double-sided copies and to print on both sides of the paper whenever feasible. When you are helping out in the classroom, or making copies for the PTO, please make double-sided copies when you can.


Lunchroom Recycling

Children can recycle milk cartons,plastic water bottles, and other recyclable containers in the lunchroom.Tell your kids to look for the big blue bins.


The Whittier lunchroom participates in the Village of Oak Park's food scraps composting program (CompostAbles). Led by the Green Team, the kids compost their lunch waste (food and paper) in a separate bin, which is hauled away to a facility where it is ground up and allowed to rot naturally. It is then put back into use as compost for plants. Since the Green Team began this program in 2013, lunchroom waste which is landfilled has been cut by 75%.


Green Fundraising
The Green Team sells products that help our school community go waste free. Currently, we are selling Chico bags and Whittier Wildcat stainless steel water bottles.


Classroom Dishes
The Green Team purchased reusable dishes and cloth napkins for every classroom teacher who wanted them. The dishes are used for classroom parties and snacks instead of disposables.


Hand Driers
The Green Team received grant money from the State of Illinois to install six new hand driers in our most heavily trafficked bathrooms. The hand driers have significantly cut down on the school’s paper towel use

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