GreenSteps Initiative

PHES Green Team

Pleasant Hill Elementary is a Green Step school. We have several ongoing school-wide projects taking place in each of three categories:  Conserve, Protect and Restore.
For all of the activities described below, it is clear that our students are at the very center of all of the learning and doing. Also, there are many opportunities for the students to teach others. For example, the students use the information about recycling to measure and graph the quantities collected and to make presentations in class about their findings. They also teach our school community on a grand scale. A wonderful example of this can be seen in the following video which is an iMovie created by eight of our fifth grade students. It is an explanation of all of the green efforts taking place here at PHES.

Please CLICK HERE to watch our video! 


  1. Teachers collect recyclable paper in bins in their classrooms. Once these bins are full, students dump the paper into central containers in each of 5 workrooms around the school. Every week, these bins are picked up by a local recycle company.

2. We use approximately 500 styrofoam trays and approximately 60 styrofoam cups in our lunchroom every day. We know that Styrofoam is very bad for our planet, and takes about 500 years to decompose. So we participate in “tap, stack and recycle”. After eating, students tap the extra food off their trays and stack it in a bin. At the end of the day, it all fits into one large trash bag. Teacher and staff volunteers take the bag to Publix supermarkets for recycling.

3. Our art teacher, Mrs. Anya Degtyareva, has worked with her students on many wonderful art projects using recycled materials. The recycled art pieces are on permanent display in our blue hall.

4. Our school participates in the “Shoes for Water” project all year round. This is a program started by a church pastor in Greenville, SC. In our commons area, we have a large collection box where students, teachers, staff and community members can drop off shoes, old and new. The shoes are picked up, packed up, and sent to Kenya. Members of the church in that country sell the shoes. The money collected is used to build wells for clean drinking water.  


  1. Students have learned about how batteries contain toxic substances.   If they are disposed into our landfills, these toxic substances can make their way into our water supply. Therefore, we protect our water supply by recycling household batteries. Teachers, staff, parents, students and community members can drop off their used household batteries in the white bucket in the main office. When the bucket is about half full, students notify the teacher volunteers. From there, a teacher volunteer takes them to Best Buy where they are recycled.

2. We know that plants can help to protect our air. Our Green Team has directed the students in placing a ZZ plant in each classroom and office space. Students were directly involved in the propagating of a few ZZ plants into many, many more.   Students also take care of the plants in their classrooms, and keep them watered. We also have many other plants around the school that the children take care of. 


  1. Using composted material helps to enrich and restore the earth’s soil. Our Green Team purchased a large composting barrel a few years ago, and it is placed in a central area outside. Teachers regularly drop off grass clippings there. Students collect apple cores and banana peels from the cafeteria and place them into the composter. Then students make sure that the barrel is consistently rotated. The composted material will be ideal for enhancing the soil used by students in our school’s garden beds.
  2. 2. Our school implemented a program to reduce organic waste in our cafeteria this past November. We are working with a company Atlas Organics. The average weight of our diverted material is 2,000 pounds per month! We are so proud of our PHES students and staff for learning and sustaining this new process.

    3. Students learn about gardening in our 6 raised garden beds. They planted many edible plants in the early fall. The students watered and cared for the plants, and ultimately harvested the vegetables.