Save the Earth. It’s an inspiring but daunting call to action. In a world where time and resources seem to be more scarce, it’s hard to think about what you can do to help. However, every small action has a ripple effect.
Plant More. Use Less. Go Outside.
Three small actions that can lead to big change. Three big ideas that get to the core of the Garden’s mission to discover and protect plants locally and around the world. But we can’t, and don’t want to, do it alone.
Brittany Tate-Beaugard noticed the large volume of art supply waste produced daily in her classroom. As the art teacher at Carver Elementary School in St. Louis City, she was already conservative in her use of resources, but she knew she could do more. She started small, putting recycling bins in her classroom, and committed herself to preserving, reusing, and recycling as much as possible.
That’s when she learned about the Garden’s EarthWays Center and its programs for schools. “It’s like the EarthWays Center was like listening to me on my phone and knew that I was really appalled at our waste problem,” she says. EarthWays staff helped Britt implement a plan to inspire her entire school to “use less” and connected her to partner organizations that could help, including Brightside St. Louis, the Green Dining Alliance, St. Louis Composting, Total Organics Recycling, and Garrett Paper Company.
Britt established a system in which everyone from the teachers to the custodial staff played a part in recycling. Adding a bit of extra work to an already very busy day proved challenging for everyone at first, but as Britt put each piece of her plan in place, the children grew excited and fully engaged in sustainability. With everyone actively involved, Britt’s sustainable practices now require less work from custodial staff and enable Carver Elementary to recycle everything except the styrofoam that’s used for lunch.
Britt even hosted a zero-waste lunch one day, using compostable plates and silverware and composting all food waste. “The custodians ended up with less to do because we went from 11 bags of trash to two,” she says.
Britt is also teaching children how to take what they already have and make the most of it. By using her all-or-nothing approach, Carver Elementary is doing its part in reducing its footprint. “I don’t make it something you have the option to buy into,” she says. “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. It’s not some experiment that we are going to do. It is just how we do it now.”
Her students’ diligence and focus on waste reduction have been recognized by everyone from the St. Louis Public Schools staff to community organizations. In fact, last year, Carver Elementary won second place in the Green Schools Quest by the U.S. Green Building Council–Missouri Gateway Chapter. Britt and her Green Team now stand among other community advocates of sustainability.
Britt has also instituted successful sustainable practices at home with her friends and family. Her children separate their trash into the appropriate bins––paper, plastic, cardboard, or TerraCycle––and collect their food waste in a worm compost bin. Sustainable living has become a way of life for the long haul.
Digital Media Intern
Celebrate Britt’s story and more during a special Wild Ideas Worth Sharing evening event on Thursday, November 1 at 5:30 p.m. in the Shoenberg Auditorium at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Free and open to the public.
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