Want to be greener? Learn more about sustainability in the Yampa Valley:

Waste Education

Other Sustainable Schools Pages
Energy Education
ReTree Education
Earth Day and Earth Hour
Green Teams, Eco Clubs, and meetings


EPA Waste Free Lunch poster

Tips for packing a waste free lunch
As school begins, reduce waste in the lunchroom by packing your child a waste-free lunch!

As school comes to a close, help keep recyclables out of the landfill with this  School’s Guide to Hard-to-Recycle Items.

Reducing Waste

The Sustainable Schools program works in conjunction with students, school leaders, staff and parent volunteers to reduce waste in the schools. Some of the endeavors include:  conducting waste and recycling audits, advocating for low-waste lunches packed from home, and providing educational tips to reduce paper use. The school lunchrooms are a key area of emphasis for waste reduction including:  reducing food waste, composting or agricultural use of food waste, using reusable plates and cutlery, and utilizing recycling and upcycling containers. The program works with schools to replace single-use Styrofoam lunch trays and plastic cutlery with reusable plates and utensils. For example, in the two elementary schools in the Steamboat Springs School District, implementing reusable plates reduced lunchroom waste by nearly 200 gallons a day, or 36,000 gallons of waste per year diverted from the landfill. This also saves on janitorial time and trash pickups. Sustainable Schools also helps to educate and provide materials for schools and event organizers to host “Zero Waste” parties and events to reduce trash.

See our blog post on Make your lunch Waste Free!

Water Monsters

Sustainable Schools promotes the use of reusable water bottles and the use of Water Monsters at large events. The monster is a 120-gallon portable water refill station that is available for everything from school events to sports tournaments to community events. For example, during the 2012 summer and fall season, the Water Monster was used at 20 events, dispensing 2,180 gallons of water and diverting 17,440 plastic water bottles. To reserve a monster for an event, contact info@yvsc.org.


Through the Sustainable Schools upcycling initiative, students and parent volunteers collect containers from single-use food servings such as chip bags, energy bar wrappers and juice pouches to turn into new products through the Terracycle company (www.TerraCycle.com). For example, in the 2011-12 school year at Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementary schools, students diverted from the trash 6,642 drink pouches, 2,891 chip bags and 5,554 energy bar wrappers to raise $370 through TerraCycle for sustainability projects at the schools.

box of mobile cell phones

Cell Phone Recycling

Cell Phone and Small Electronics Recycling

Now that taking electronic waste to the landfill is illegal in the state of Colorado, Sustainable Schools is doing its part to help properly recycle all types of old cell phones. The process assists local consumers and helps to raise funds for the Sustainable Schools program. An official collection box is located in the lobby of Wells Fargo Bank in downtown Steamboat Springs at Third and Lincoln. Lobby hours are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays. Cell phones also are accepted at the YVSC office at Ninth and Oak streets and at Steamboat Springs Middle and High Schools in the front office. The collection boxes can accept used or broken cell phones, smart phones, cell phone chargers and batteries, digital cameras, iPods, PDAs and iPads. Cell phones collected through this program with The Wireless Alliance in Boulder are either refurbished and reused or smelted for metals and plastics at a certified and EPA-regulated facility. Any questions, contact YVSC at info@yvsc.org.

Recycling for Classroom

YVSC has also implemented classroom clean-out events at the end of the year to reuse and recycle excess materials and school supplies. Each year since 2011 YVSC collects between 15 and 20 boxes of schools supplies from Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementaries. Classroom supplies are also collected at our annual Community Recycles Drop Off Day. View an updated  School’s Guide to Hard-to-Recycle Items.


Clean out the Classroom
Making your event Zero Waste
Plastics Sign
Recycles Skit
Recycle Lunchroom Poster
Upcycle Poster