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: 

  • Robust student engagement in environmental issues through the Environment Program, Environmental Interest Group, and institutional environmental impact data collection and analysis
  • Student design, built, and managed Urban Farm and Garden
  • Zero waste Dining Hall
  • Recycling and compost bins throughout campus
  • Facilities and maintenance teams strive to reduce our environmental impact through energy efficiency and environmentally conscious purchases.
  • Endowment transitioned to 100 percent environmental sustainable screened investments


  • Check out local and global resources on environmental issues on our Lib Guide.
  • Follow our adventure on our NWS.Sustainability Instagram account.

Gold Certified Green School

Leading by Example

In 2017, Washington Green Schools awarded The Northwest School a Gold-Certification. Washington Green Schools provides schools with the support and resources to empower students to become environmental leaders. Schools gain certification through student-led initiatives, including investigating environmental issues at school, creating action plans, and making meaningful and lasting changes on campus. Read more about the certification process here.


The Environment Program

Taking Care of Our Immediate Surroundings

Three 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.

Environment Farm Garden

Urban Farm and Garden

Growing Local Produce

Our Urban Farm and Garden in the West Court was designed and built by Northwest School students. The Urban Farm and Garden provides a multi-use space on the school's campus, complete with an outdoor area for teachers and students to use as both a classroom and community gathering space. The garden contains fifteen raised beds, which helps provide our dining hall with a variety of vegetables and herbs throughout the year. The Farm and Garden is maintained and cared for by students in the Environmental Interest Group.


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

Local, Seasonal, and Fresh

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