Waste Reduction

Academic Excellence

GSP   |   History   |   The Program   |   How It Works   |   School Presentations   |   Participating Schools

Green Schools Program

The County of Santa Cruz Green Schools Program (GSP) furthers the education of students, teachers and staff on environmental topics including resource conservation, storm water runoff, water quality and conservation, energy conservation, recycling, and waste reduction. The goal of GPS is to support the county’s schools as they evolve into "Green Schools" that model wise resource use, eliminate waste, reduce non-point source pollution, and train students to conserve scarce resources like energy and water. The program provides both in-class and school-wide presentations, educational assemblies, and technical assistance to member schools.


The GSP is an elaboration of the original award-winning Waste Free Schools (WFS) program which focused entirely on waste reduction and recycling education. The GSP builds on the success of the WFS program that has been in place since 1997. The GSP is funded by the County of Santa Cruz Public Works Departments, and the County's hauler franchise Green Waste Recovery (GWR).

The Program

All schools in the unincorporated area of the County of Santa Cruz are invited to participate in the GSP. The County has contracted with Coastal Watershed Council to support school district staff and offer presentations and assemblies at schools. Presentations are available for all grades (Kindergarten thru 12th grade), teachers, administrators, cafeteria staff, and custodians.

How the Program Works

Site leaders meet with GSP staff to gain assistance in reducing trash and increasing recycling efforts, increasing water and energy conservation, and in planning school events that support the goals of the GSP. Site leaders are the point people at their schools, reminding other teachers and administrators of the goals and priorities of the GSP, and pushing for changes that would incorporate the conservation and waste reduction methods discussed in their meetings with GSP staff. Each school, with the help of GSP staff, develops its own individualized plan to reduce resources use, minimize waste and increase recycling. The Green Schools Checklist includes a broad range of the actions and activities a school can undertake to reduce its environmental footprint. The schools can then obtain a "Green Business" Certification. The schools are also asked to participate in community outreach events. Under teacher supervision, the students at participating schools, are required to participate in a hands-on learning event tied to the program’s goals such as a beach, watershed or river cleanup or a storm drain marking project that also serves to spread the environmental message to the greater community.

School Presentations

Assembly and classroom presentations offered by Coastal Watershed Council to schools enrolled in the GSP include the following popular entertaining and educational shows:

Waste Reduction

Environmental Water Show

PowerPoint Presentations:

Why is trash a big problem?
Water-Saving, and pollution
How Much Stuff is enough?

Participating Schools




Recycling Questions?
Santa Cruz County Recycles
or call (831) 454-2160

Contact Green Schools Program
by email
or call 831-454-2160


This website has been produced by the Recycling and Solid Waste Services of the Santa Cruz County Department of Public Works, copyright 2010. For more information about the waste reduction programs of the County of Santa Cruz, please visit