BUSD Sustainability


NorCal Resilience Network director Susan Silber is thrilled to be working with the Berkeley Unified Schools District to advance sustainability efforts. In collaboration with the BUSD Facilities Department, she wrote the  BUSD Sustainability Plan,  a comprehensive effort to to reduce the environmental footprint of schools and promote environmental literacy, which we believe are fundamental to a high-quality 21st century education.

Implementation of this Plan will have numerous benefits including addressing climate change, saving money, supporting students’ social and emotional learning through increased hands-on and nature-based opportunities. 


“Striving Toward Zero Waste”

Thanks to generous funding from Altamont Advisory Fund and Stopwaste, BUSD has a grant to reduce waste production in its schools this year. We are making waste reduction a priority, from Kindergarten to high school.  Our 2019 goals are:

  • Set up classroom & hallway composting and recycling systems/stations
  • Support lunchroom sorting and reduction of food waste
  • Promote a culture of zero waste and sustainability, with students and BUSD staff inspired to reduce, reuse, recycle and rot (the 4 R’s)


Did you know…

  • The 4 R’s saves the District money as it costs much less to compost and recycle than to throw waste into the landfill. In 2015 BUSD saved $40,000 by having schools practice the 4 R’s.
  • It’s the law to recycle and compost!

Get involved in our efforts! You can contact your school’s Green Team or send an email to “Striving for Zero Waste” and Sustainability Coordinator Susan Silber: sustainability@berkeley.net.


For Site Administrators


For Teacher Leaders

  • Timeline

  • Quick Lesson plan (5 minute sorting + discussion questions)

  • Stopwaste’s “Doing the 4Rs” classroom activity guide, with 24 standard-based lessons and five thematic units developed for educators teaching fourth and fifth grades.

For Parents and Green Teams

  • Zero Waste Lunch: Guide on how to pack a zero-waste lunch.
  • Contact the City of Berkeley if you would like outdoor waste station for your carnival or school event (heidi@


Stopwaste Resources

Stopwaste is a public agency with the goal of reducing waste output in Alameda County through the 4 R’s, with variety of programs and resources for schools, in addition to their work with businesses and homes. Be on alert for upcoming events such as teacher trainings on their news page. For more updates, visit their contact page or send an email to schools@stopwaste.org and request to be added to their email list.

  • Signage: Stopwaste offers a “Sign Maker Tool” that allows schools to custom design their own signs with their own relevant example items.

Other Organizations and Resources

  • Think Before You Throw: Show this 7 minute video to students in elementary and middle schools for an introduction to the importance of sorting waste and diverting it from landfills.
  • Wisdom Supply Co.: Works with teachers to provide eco-friendly, low-plastic school supplies for classrooms. Uses a crowdfunding approach to ensure all students have equal access to supplies.
  • TerraCycle: Will collect trash items that aren’t usually recycled, and then reuse and recycle them.
  • The Ecology Center: Has resources and events to educate people and help reduce the amount of plastic and other trash that we use.
  • Recology: A large portion of their work involves educating customers and children about the recycling programs available to them.
  • Earth Capades: school assemblies with environmental education themes
  • Case Study: Teacher Jackie O’Mania at Oxford Elementary taught math and science through reducing waste in her classroom to a single quart for the whole year.