Commitment to the environment is a core part of Paideia’s Framework of Values: the school encourages students to take responsibility for the environment and for advocating preservation and protection of the natural world. Paideia strives to teach students that we must meet the needs of the current generation without compromising the needs of future generations.
Paideia’s commitment is evident throughout the school, including the Parent Green Team, the Student Green Team, curriculum, facilities, construction and renovation, land and resource stewardship, professional development and community outreach. The Georgia Recycling Coalition, the Green Schools Alliance and U.S. Green Building Council have recognized Paideia’s achievements with commendations and awards.
From Garbage to Black Gold: Paideia is particularly proud of two closely linked areas of focus: waste reduction and urban agriculture. Early efforts at recycling eventually led to greater waste reduction through composting; all that compost naturally led to the development of gardens and the urban agriculture program, expanding in complexity from a few heads of lettuce to a variety of vegetables, the cultivation of bees and raising chickens. Fostering this connection to the natural world through intertwined learning activities has become an essential part of the school’s commitment to environmental awareness.
In 2012, Paideia hired an urban agriculture coordinator to engage the school community in farming. Through urban agriculture, students, teachers, and parents learn about the synergistic relationships between growing crops, eating, raising animals, reusing waste, and the related nutritional and environmental benefits. Paideia families are enthusiastically embracing the value of urban agriculture by working with teachers and students to farm sections both on campus and in the neighborhood.
- check your tire pressure on your vehicles
- change to efficient light bulbs
- buy organic and locally grown food
- adjust your thermostat
- unplug your charger
- use petrochemical-free household products
- compost your food waste
- plant a tree
- recycle your shoes
- green your parties
- be an energy star consumer
- buy recycled paper products
- support green businesses
- give green gifts
Locations for Recycling in the community
- CHARM (Center for Hard to Recycle Materials). paint, chemicals, tires, styrofoam, etc.
- www.keepatlantabeautiful.org/community-recycling-centers – electronics, Styrofoam, paper, paint and metals
- www.atlantapaintdisposal.com – household paints
- www.batteriesplus.com – batteries
Recycling efforts at Paideia date back to the early days of the school but became systematic with the formation of the parent-run Green Team in the early 2000s. Now, recycling and other waste reduction efforts are key parts of each and every event on campus including the auction, Art Visions, Eat Lunch with Your Child, Grandparents and Special Friends' Day, the Thanksgiving Feast and PiBites.
In addition to vastly expanding recycling collection, the Green Team launched and oversees a number of initiatives:
- Twice yearly Lullwater Creek clean-ups
- Native planting day in the creek area
- Re-Use a Shoe drives
- Reusable Meal Kit creation
- Zero-Waste Thanksgiving Feast
- Campus composting program
Organizes campus-wide Earth Day fairs; activities include:
- Farm-to-School market
- Club Moda Green Team fashion show
- Chattahoochee River Keepers and rain barrel booth
- Children’s parade through campus
- Beekeeping booth
- Solar panel exhibit
- Paideia garden tours
- Native plant sale
- Wool spinner/felting exhibit
- No-waste lunch
- Permaculture exhibit
The Student Green Team works to make Paideia a greener, more environmentally friendly school, striving to increase awareness of current environmental problems and helping students take action on a local level.
- Manages high school recycling program
- Promotes “brownies for batteries and bulbs” exchange program
- Sponsors fashion show of eco-friendly student-designed garments
- Participates in metro area High School Green Cup Challenge
- Works with ACE program to reduce CO2 emissions in classrooms
- Sponsors walk/bike/scoot to school day
For more information, including student-made videos, visit the Student Green Team website.
Paideia encourages teachers to incorporate sustainability into the curriculum and has awarded grants for a variety of projects proposed by faculty, including the development of a junior high curriculum on food security and food safety, the creation of a permaculture garden for an AP environmental class, and a study of aquaponics, which integrates systems of agriculture and aquaculture.
Year-round Farm-to-School Gardening Program: The urban agriculture coordinator works with all elementary and several junior high and high school classes in year-round gardening; preparing soil, sowing, transplanting, tending and harvesting as well as raising chickens and keeping bees. The coordinator also oversees the summer agricultural intern program.
All elementary classes participate in the campus-wide composting program and gardening experiences.
Elementary science teacher has worked with several elementary classes to build Mason bee houses to explore the role of bees in pollination.
6-7 year old class: Have studied the water cycle, rivers and oceans, including conservation activities and rainforests.
7-8 year old class: Studies include Georgia watersheds and rivers; archaeology: old garbage and new garbage, how cultures get rid of what they don’t want and how to reduce our own waste.
8-9 year old class: Activities include planting trees, studying forestry management; studying water and water cycles, how to reduce consumption and how treatment plants work to clean water.
10-11 year old class: Activities include collecting, weighing, measuring, graphing and evaluating class-generated garbage.
11 year old class: Studying and hands-on activities have focused on oil spills and their effects.
8th grade physical science class: Studies include the Atlanta Beltline project and regional transportation issues as well as the effects of cleaning products and the use of green cleaning agents.
Junior high homebase class: Responsible for overseeing the native plant garden that students designed and installed.
Junior high homebase class: Major focus has included exploring sustainable agriculture, food diversity and food security issues. Built worm bins (vermiculture) to produce garden compost.
Junior high: sponsors an elective course on urban agriculture.
AP Environmental class: Focuses on local sustainability issues, including water quality monitoring of Lullwater Creek.
Biology: Classes incorporate research of pollution issues and ecosystems; study of plant growth and nutrient requirements in hydroponic growing systems; study of pollinators, including hands-on experience working with honey bees and hive installation.
Green Home Design Course: Studies low-impact sustainable housing.
Permaculture Design Course: Focuses on permanent and sustainable agriculture.
Nicaragua Trip: Analyzes business models that promote social change and environmental sustainability in a developing country.
LEED Certification: Two LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) certified buildings: Junior High and Mother Goose building, which incorporate sustainable features such as a geothermal heat exchange system and two water retention ponds.
Renovations of existing buildings also incorporate green practices:
- High energy efficient heat and air systems
- Low VOC paints and adhesives
- Carpet tiles composed of recycled materials
- Green cleaning programs
- Fluorescent and LED light fixtures
- Lighting control systems with programmed timers and motion detectors
- Water efficient toilets and faucets
Composting: Composting has become a central part of both waste reduction efforts and the urban agriculture program, tending the soil and using land both on and off campus to produce food.
Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle: Waste reduction is a key component of Paideia’s commitment to the environment. The Green Team’s innovative Reuse-a-Kit (plates, utensils, cups for at least 100) is used at most parent-hosted social events as well as on-campus events. Wooden stage sets from the musicals are taken to a homeless camp where they are reused as shelter. Even a small effort such as using washable mugs in the teachers' lounge has reduced the daily waste from paper cups.
Recycling efforts have grown over the years to include
paper, glass, plastics, cardboard, aluminum, fluorescent bulbs, electronics, printer cartridges, batteries and Styrofoam. The school uses many recycled products including paper towels, toilet paper and copy paper.
Water Conservation: With the growing global and regional concern for water supplies, Paideia has demonstrated its commitment with investments in low-flow toilets and waterless urinals, and water wells, rain barrels and cisterns for landscape maintenance. The school has installed two bioretention ponds to minimize stormwater runoff, and uses native plants throughout the campus landscape.
Energy Efficiency: Paideia has invested in high energy, efficient heat and air systems, LED and fluorescent light fixtures and a geothermal heat exchange system. Paideia strives to create awareness of energy efficiency by encouraging everyone to turn off lights and computers when not in use.