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Guidelines for Sustainable Classroom Parties

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle is the mindset behind parties at Lakeridge.  We have worked hard for many years to get the Level 4 certification through the King County Green Schools Program. The measure of our success is in the support we receive from our parents and teachers and in turn imparting this knowledge to our students.

This year were are moving to reusable party supplies! Cups, plates, and utensils are all now reusable and simply need to be hand washed and dried or run through your dishwasher and returned to school.  We are eliminating all one-time use plates, cups and utensils. This will save hundreds and hundreds of dollars by not having to purchase compostable supplies. This year we put that savings into the purchase of the reusable items.  This will have a huge impact on our local environment by not contributing trash to our neighborhood landfills which in turn keeps green house gases out of our precious children’s air. Simply add a line item to your class party sign-ups “Wash re-usable cups, plates and utensils and return to classroom” for each class party.  Parents can take them home and run them through their dishwasher.  The items fill half a paper grocery bag.  Parents are also welcome to wash and dry them at school and return them to the box.

Please make sure to explain this to all your classroom parents and make an announcement at the beginning of each party for kids to take note of where the compost and recycling bins are and what goes where.  Please make use of the classroom’s recycling bin to recycle any paper used for the party, empty juice boxes, and so on. Bring two paper bags to collect any leftover food. On your way out, put compost bags into the yellow compost bins in the lunchroom  It is the parents responsibility to help remind and educate our students about how and why we are being environmental.

The effort is minimal but the reward is huge. It creates an opportunity for you to connect with the children about this important topic. Thank you very much for your support of our district’s efforts to educate our children on sustainability and for helping to ‘be the change we wish to see in the world.’

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions!

Nancy Weil and Liz Evans
Co-PTA Presidents

About Compost:

Everything that goes into your mouth is compostable (literally except gum – who knew!). This include melon rinds, coffee grounds, chicken bones, egg shells and wax cheese rind.  Additionally, pizza boxes, paper plates, paper cups or wax lined cups like Dixie, cardboard boxes, egg and berry cardboard cartons, plain paper, napkins etc. can also be composted.  If something is wax lined it is compostable, if it has a plastic film, it is not. You can tell the difference by scraping your nail across the cup, for example, and if it is wax lined some of the wax will come up under your nail.  Plates, cups, straws, utensils etc.. made from compostable materials are compostable.  All supplies in the front office are either reusable or compostable!

Check link for Mercer Island specific guidelines on composting:

About Recycling:

All of these just need to be cleaned out and emptied to recycle: Aluminum cans, glass bottles, plastic bottles, milk and juice boxes, clean paper, plastic cups with the recycle triangle on the bottom, tin cans, yogurt and apple sauce cups and even the aluminum foil pull off top!

Not recyclable: Capri sun (boo!), tiny little plastic wraps around straws, granola bar wrappers or any bar wrappers, little plastic fruit chew pouches, aluminum or plastic cookie, chip pouches, most tiny plastic things that hold something together to something else are not.  Bottle caps are not (but reusable for art!)

Check the link for Mercer Island specific guidelines:

Decorations & Party Favors: 

Most decorations have a plastic film on them which make them non-recyclable.  Find paper or cloth tablecloths and use natural decorations (flowers, plants, colorful fruits, stones, bare branches decorated with ornaments or ribbon, etc.) that are biodegradable or reusable.  Party favors can be snacks without plastic wrapping.  If you want to bring in colorful decorations, have kids cut out hearts, rainbows, swirls, color themed designs from construction paper and either save them for next year or recycle.  Balloons are not environmental at all and the district has a latex-free policy, so just skip them all together.


Avoid plastics and non-recyclables: Skip individual plastic water bottles and juice boxes. No more juice boxes!  We can do it!  Juice boxes and milk cartons are recyclable and therefore ZERO WASTE and allowed. BUT… so much less wasteful to do the following:  use large reusable water dispensers (pitchers) for water or to mix frozen juices you can buy at the grocery store.  Use cups that are made from paper or have a recycle symbol on the bottom.  Drinks in aluminum, glass or plastic containers are recyclable.   ***Best option would be to use the reusable cups provided by the PTA


  • To avoid waste, be careful not to overbuy.
  • At the same time, buying in bulk (like goldfish) eliminates individual wrappings and keeps you at zero waste.
  • No individual, single-serving snacks of any kind.  None of these wrappers are recyclable and are very wasteful.
  • Pay attention to the little things: for example, paper cupcake wrappers are compostable, but the aluminum ones are trash.
  • Send food home with families or teachers!  Even consider arranging with a local food bank to pick up leftovers at the end of the event
  • Serve local and organic food when possible, and offer a vegetarian option.

Additional Resources


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