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Earth Day: Waterfront Academy's History of Stewardship

When Waterfront Academy started renovations to open at 60 I Street SW in 2014, we made a commitment to both our environment and the children we serve. Since inception we have a history of making decision that are both good for the school community and the environment where we live, play, and work.

Back in 2014 when Waterfront Academy signed a lease with Bethel Tabernacle Pentecostal Church and started renovations. During those initial renovations, we changed all the lights to LED (low watt bulbs to reduce energy), painted the interior with low and zero VOC paint (lower the amount of toxins in the air), installed low flow toilets (reduces the amount of water wasted), installed laminate floors made from recycled materials, installed white honey-comb window shades (saves energy from heating and cooling, as well as allows natural light in and minimizes the harmful UV rays), and purchased furniture that was made entirely of re-purposed wood as well as salvaging and repurposing used furniture.

In addition, all of our materials in the classrooms are made of natural materials which reduces children's exposure to harmful chemicals that are in plastics like BPA. We even eat and drink from glasses and silverware. In addition from limiting exposure to harmful chemicals, not using paper and plastic utensils also reduces our waste.

Since our first students arrived to school, Waterfront Academy has been committed to teaching children to respect our environment and to leave it better than when we arrived. They love planting, growing and caring for plants and flowers we have in our classrooms. Our children often ask to go on trash pick-up walks armed with gloves and trash grabbers. We also teach them ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle in the classroom. We teach them how to wash their hands and how to wash dishes to conserve water. We teach them how to respect and use materials so that we can keep them longer for future classes and years. We also teach them to conserve resources like paper, toilet paper, and paper towels (a concept that is often difficult for young children to understand).

When available we opt to purchase the bamboo alternative to wood materials.

This year, our primary students built a raised garden bed with a composting key hole in the center and planted vegetables. The elementary students entered in the US Department of Energy Annual Earth Day Poster Contest. And our middle school entered into the "Caring for our Watersheds" contest and came up with two ideas to improve our watershed. One, to make homemade hand soap so that the chemicals from store-bought hand soap won't enter the water system, the other was to ramp up our recycling program.

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