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Worms Go to School
Classroom worm bins offer lessons beyond organic decomposition.

The worm to student ratio at six Pierce County schools increased last year when our environmental education programs focused on vermicomposting, which is composting food scraps with red worms. Students helped build worm bins for their classrooms, added food and learned how to properly maintain their bins.

Worm bins are a valuable teaching tool.

Compost education encourages children to use their senses to see, smell, touch and identify the natural processes that break down food.

A worm bin is an ideal way to study a healthy ecosystem because students learn about the relationship between earthworms, plants and ecological sustainability. Vermicomposting also fits well with state learning requirements for these concepts.

Worm composting offers students unique opportunities to:

  • Practice mathematical concepts and scientific methods like measurement, ratio and proportion, area, temperature, observations, etc.
  • Think about what happens to garbage after it’s put in a trash can.
  • Learn about community, the environment and local systems of food production and waste disposal.
Children exploring a worm bin

Organic waste makes up one of the largest components of a school’s waste stream.

Wasted food is an environmental and financial concern for Pierce County schools and worm composting is a sound choice for diverting some of it from the garbage.

It’s also fun!

We would love to see vermicomposting become a part of daily life in all Pierce County schools. By sharing curriculum for vermicomposting, our environmental education team encourages schools and school districts to undertake waste reduction projects like worm composting. Visit piercecountywa.gov/enviroed to request our programs at your school.

Terrific teacher Linda Merritt
Terrific Teacher

Linda Merritt leads the way
Wherever she is and whatever grade she’s teaching, Linda Merritt helps students and fellow teachers learn about the environment and get excited about positive changes at school and home.

When she taught at Saltar’s Point Elementary in Steilacoom, Linda established strong ties between their school garden and the 4th grade science curricula. The 4th grade classes continue to use the garden for STEM learning.

Since moving to Chloe Clark Elementary to teach 2nd grade, her team started a new unit that applies STEM concepts to garbage and recycling. So far, this unit:

  • Helped the school improve their recycling program
  • Inspired reuse at home with an upcycled design and engineering project parade
  • Added a school worm bin that 2nd grade classes help maintain

This year Linda has her sights on starting a Green Team at Chloe Clark. They will work to connect the school’s growing school garden and outdoor learning area to the classroom curriculum.

Linda’s energy and enthusiasm are inspiring. When she learned the environmental education team was offering a Garden EcoCamp this summer, she volunteered her time to help. Thank you, Linda, for all that you do!

Back-to-School Shopping Tips

Before you shop
Is there anything you bought last year that you can reuse, hand down or swap with your friends and neighbors? It’s easy to be lured in to buying new things every year, but if there is paper left in a notebook or half a pack of unused pencils, you may be able to avoid buying some items on your list.

Notes about paper
Choose notebooks and paper made with post-consumer recycled content, which comes from paper collected in curbside carts.

Look for paper that is certified forest friendly. If the package or cover doesn’t list where it’s from or what it’s made from, then it’s probably made from trees grown with unsustainable forest practices.

Where do you shop?
It’s easier than ever to find sustainable options in stores. Local office supply stores stock 3-ring binders made of recycled material and offer eco-friendly alternatives for almost everything on your list.

If you’re shopping for supplies online, search for “eco-friendly” or “eco-conscious” school supplies to find refillable pens made of recycled plastic bottles, bamboo rulers, solar calculators, and more.

Look for school supplies with recycled content

Learning Opportunities

Zero Waste Garden Series

Composting classes (September–October)
Composting: The Breakdown; Family Vermicomposting!; Vermicomposting
Register at piercecountywa.gov/composting

Edible Gardens Workshops

Classes in September:
Fruit, Nuts & Berries; Composting Basics & Putting the Garden to Bed
Register at piercecountywa.gov/ediblegardens

WSU Pierce County Extension Master Gardener Program
Free Gardening Talks

Saturday, August 25: From Garden to Table (Puyallup)

Saturday, September 8: Pruning Basics (Puyallup)

Saturday, September 8: Hummingbird Landscapes (Gig Harbor)



Through December 6th: Make/Do: A History of Creative Reuse 
Washington State History Museum

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30 years and better than ever!

To celebrate our anniversary, we're sending monthly updates with stories, learning opportunities and tips for sustainable living.


We hope you enjoy seeing what's happening in your community!

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