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

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
  • Environmental Preferable Purchasing Policy (EPPP)
  • 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.

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.

Environmental Sustainability Speaker Series

The Northwest School Environmental Sustainability Speaker Series aims to build community and pique curiosity and informed action within The Northwest School community and beyond by convening engaging, informal, community conversations with rockstar people working on environmental and related issues from a variety of sectors and approaches. The series began in Spring 2020 and is open to all--students, parents, faculty, alumni, and friends of the school.

Past guest speakers in the Environmental Sustainability Speaker Series include:

  • Lylianna Allala, Climate Justice Director, City of Seattle
  • Gabrielle Farrell, Former Press Secretary for the Elizabeth Warren for President Campaign
  • Harriet Morgan, Researcher, UW Climate Impacts Group
  • Adrienne Hampton, Climate Policy and Engagement Manager, Duwamish River Cleanup
  • Heidi Roop, Assistant Professor of Climate Science and Extension Specialist, University of Minnesota
  • Abbey Brown, Greenhouse Gas Reduction Specialist, WA State Department of Ecology, focused on reducing highly potent GHGs, and NWS alum ’07
  • Johnny Buck, Wanapum Tribe and parent of NWS student Tatiwyat B.
  • Amaury Avalos, Planning & Development Specialist for the City of Seattle Human Services Department focused on food access and racial equity
  • Dr. Heather Price, Professor at North Seattle College, atmospheric chemist, and climate justice activist
  • (upcoming May 2021) WA Senator Joe Nguyen, representing WA 34th legislative district (West Seattle and White Center) and committed to championing legislation that puts people before profits