Environmental Sustainability

Practicing good stewardship

Environmental sustainability is one of the most urgent issues facing our world today. It’s also a value that’s been an integral part of The Northwest School's mission since its founding.

We’ve adopted the longstanding understanding of sustainability as living in ways that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Here are a few of the ways we incorporate environmental sustainability into daily life:

Northwest School Hires Director of Environmental Education and Stewardship

Jenny Cooper is joining Northwest’s faculty this year in a newly created position, Director of Environmental Education and Sustainability. Jenny’s previous positions have included work with NGOs and city governments on local and international climate change policy, and food justice and urban agriculture. Most recently she was living in Singapore as a Henry Luce Scholar, working at a software company that uses behavior science to drive residential energy efficiency improvements. She holds two master’s degrees from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor: a Master of Science in Natural Resources and Environment, and a Master of Business Administration.

As part of her job at Northwest, Jenny will be identifying opportunities to collaborate across disciplines and grade levels to support the school’s mission with regard to environment.

Some of her immediate efforts include:

  • Co-coordinating our Environment Program.
  • Supporting Middle and Upper School faculty to further incorporate environment and sustainability concepts into existing curriculum, including connections with equity and social justice.
  • Co-facilitating student interest groups, including the Environmental Interest Group.
  • Supporting Facilities, Transportation, and Food Services in improving and refining sustainability practices.
  • Furthering environmental initiatives by expanding the school’s external partnerships.

The Environment Program

Taking care of our immediate surroundings. Four times a week students and faculty work in mixed-grade teams under the leadership of seniors to clean and care for the school and immediate surrounding areas. Each team cares for an assigned area within the school, and the senior leaders are responsible for guiding those teams. The program is integrated into our daily routines; our dining room composts all food waste and we have recycle and compost bins throughout our facilities. Not only does the program foster an attitude of stewardship for both the school campus and the planet—it cultivates leadership skills in our seniors, as well as a sense of community within and across environment teams.


Environmental Interest Group

Promoting Action and Engagement. This student club promotes environmental sustainability and awareness through a variety of ongoing projects, including, attending work parties in regional parks, initiating fund drives to protect endangered species, maintaining the school’s vegetable garden, and holding an annual Green Week for the entire Northwest School community.


Food Service

Ensuring What and How We Eat Reflects Our Values. The Northwest School kitchen, headed by our Director of Food Services Bethany Fong, composts all food waste and recycles all recyclable materials. When the school implemented this system, it reduced the amount of trash produced in the kitchen by more than 80%.

Today, very few products in the Northwest School kitchen come in individual packages. In fact, when a previous bagel supplier switched from bulk delivery to individually wrapped bagels in plastic bags, Northwest found a new bagel supplier so the school would be sending less trash to the landfill. We also negotiated with Loki Fish Co., one of our fish providers, to bring large orders of fish in cardboard boxes rather than smaller plastic-wrapped quantities.


Environmental Purchasing Policy

Sustainable Purchasing. The Northwest School has an official Environmental Preferable Purchasing Policy (EPPP). The policy guides faculty and administrators in the purchase of products and services whose environmental and social impacts are less damaging to the environment and human health when compared to competing products and services. Click here to read the Northwest School's EPPP.

The EPPP is designed to strengthen and encourage environmentally responsible and socially conscious purchasing at Northwest. We hope the EPPP influences providers, peers, and community members to do the same.

We’re not simply grasping at the most recent educational trend. The conscious commitment to caring for our planet runs deep at Northwest. Informing virtually every aspect of our curriculum and operations is the belief that we have an obligation to educate our students to live sustainably.

Mike McGill

Head of School

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