Environmental Sustainability

An Urban Environmental Education

Environmental sustainability is one of the most urgent social justice and existential issues of our time. As an integral part of The Northwest School's mission since its founding, caring for the environment currently is integrated into our daily routines, curriculum, institutional practices, and student leadership opportunities.

Follow our adventure on Instagram: @NWS.Sustainability

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Integrated Practices

Key ways we incorporate sustainability in our school programs:

  • Robust student engagement in environmental issues through the Environmental Interest Group, Environment Program, and institutional environmental impact data collection and analysis
  • Endowment transitioned to 100 percent environmentally and socially responsible investments
  • Student-designed, -built, and -managed Urban Farm and Garden
  • Zero waste Dining Hall
  • Outdoor Program that runs more than 10 trips per year
  • Recycling and compost bins throughout campus
  • Ongoing efforts by our facilities team to reduce our environmental impact through energy efficiency and environmentally conscious purchasing
  • Grade level trips relating to environmental issues, such as food systems, farming, and pollution in the Puget Sound, in addition to curricular ties across grades and disciplines


  • Check out local and global resources on environmental issues via our Lib Guide.

Nurturing Awareness

We have a near 40-year history of deep commitment to environmental sustainability. In 1971, Northwest co-founder Mark Terry authored Teaching for Survival, a seminal book of the era's rising eco-movement. In the book, he argues that environmental education should not be taught as a single subject, nor should it belong to any one teacher. Understanding of the environment should be dealt with "in every teacher's classroom."

In that spirit, environmental sustainability is not mandated as one course in Northwest School's curriculum; in fact, quite the opposite. Sustainable practice and awareness arise in the context of many different subjects.

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

Students Making a Difference

Learn More About Our Student-led Interest Groups

Experience More

Gold Certified Green School

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.