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.


The Green Team consists of:


VP of Green Initiatives - this person drives the strategy of the PTO's green initiatives in a highly collaborative role with the Whittier administration.


Garden Lead and Team - The Garden Team is the largest area of volunteers with a Garden Lead who manages our important Service Day to kick off the growing season and Garden Team volunteers that help maintain the garden, support school education events and help support harvest events. 


Beautification Team - The beautification team looks to improve the Whittier campus in design, look and feel to ensure our students, families and community have a unique experience on the Whittier campus. 

 Join Our Team!

Green Team Recycling Tips


Polystyrene foam, commonly called "styrofoam" is not recyclable in Oak Park.  The Dart Container Corp has opened a collection center for residents and businesses to recycle it. They accept polystyrene foam in any form except for packing peanuts*.  Coolers, cups, foam packing blocks, egg cartons, and clean plates and to-go containers are welcome. 


When and Where: 

The Dart Container Corp is located at 7575 S.Kostner Ave.  The drop-off dumpster is on the  Southeast corner of the building on 76th Street. Look for the sign and big metal cage.  Drop-off is available 24/7 rain or shine. 


Textiles and Fabrics

According to the U.S. EPA, a whopping 85% of all discarded textiles – 11 million tons – are sent to U.S. landfills every year. But that is such a waste because clothes, linens, blankets, and other textiles are highly reusable, and if worn or torn they are still definitely recyclable! Please donate them!​


What happens to your textiles after you donate them at a drop-off? Wearable clothes and shoes are sorted for reuse; damaged or worn textiles are turned into wiping rags or insulation blankets; beyond that the remains are sorted for use in fiber products, like insulation, packing material or carpeting.



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.


 Harvest Volunteer! 

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.

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%.

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.