Waste Not Washington School Awards

The Waste Not Washington School Awards promote sustainability and reward school efforts to reduce waste, recycle, and teach environmental curriculum. A budget of $100,000 per year is available; each award provides up to $5,000.

We encourage schools to be environmental stewards for their students and communities. Across the state, schools are finding ways to carry out their educational missions in a less wasteful manner. These awards celebrate Washington schools for their environmental efforts and help fund their waste reduction projects.

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Funding cycle

  • Amount of funding available: $100,000
  • Award amount limit: Up to $5,000 per project
  • No matching funds required

The Waste Not Washington School Awards help build and improve waste reduction, reuse, and recycling programs and curricula in Washington schools. 

A crucial issue that children face is the uncertainty of the world they will inherit. Schools that teach and practice sustainable behavior are important role models to children and their communities. These schools provide students knowledge and skills to understand and respond to a rapidly changing world.

Bringing environmental issues into classrooms is challenging when working within basic education requirements. Waste reduction programs are an opportunity for students to learn about environmental impacts of materials and waste — including climate impacts. 

As students learn to take ownership of the future and hone their abilities to make improvements, they in turn will model leadership behavior and find opportunities to educate their fellow students, families, and communities about the impacts of waste. Dedication and support from all members of the school and the greater community are key components of a successful program. Your school can be part of the effort to teach these important principles to tomorrow’s leaders.

Application information

Applications for 2024 funding awards are open from Aug. 1, 2024 until 5 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2024. How to apply:

If you have any questions, please contact us for technical assistance.

Join our email list to stay informed about the Waste Not Washington School Awards.

Applicants may be eligible to receive awards if they meet the following criteria:

  • Applicant must be a teacher or staff member of a K-12 public, private, tribal school, or school district applying on behalf of a school or classroom
  • Projects must show a sustainable focus surrounding waste reduction, recycling, green purchasing, food waste reduction, and/or composting

Eligible projects for these awards include waste reduction, recycling, and composting efforts, such as:

  • Switching to reusable trays, plates, silverware, or cups
  • Implementing food share tables and food waste reduction campaigns
  • Replacing single-use milk cartons with bulk beverage dispensers and reusable cups
  • Implementing a recycling collection program for appropriate materials
  • Generating lessons and curriculum on waste reduction education

This award recognizes a school's ongoing efforts to support and expand programs for waste reduction, composting, and recycling.

It is intended to not only recognize a school for past efforts but to support the continuation and future goals of its programs. Ecology may recognize sustainable school programs created and implemented within five years of the application date.

This category awards funds to implement school waste reduction and recycling programs. A school can use the funds to:

  • Buy educational aids and equipment for waste reduction/recycling programs. Examples include purchasing reusable utensils/trays/flatware for school cafeterias, installing bulk milk/juice/water dispensers to reduce food waste, hanging waste-reduction and recycling-focused educational signage, begin operating composting equipment, etc.
  • Integrate sustainability lessons into the curriculum to help meet the goals established by the State of Washington Environmental Education Guidelines.

This category awards funds to generate newly created and original curricula that:

  • Introduces students, teachers, staff, and administrators to the concepts of waste reduction, composting, recycling, green chemistry, sustainable design, or circular economy.
  • Strives to inspire a sense of environmental stewardship in the students and staff.

All developed materials must be made publicly available through the Open Educational Resources (OER) Commons portal.


All applications must be received by 5 p.m. on the date listed to be considered for the corresponding award cycle:

  • Oct. 31, 2024

Online submissions are strongly encouraged (see links above). All mail applications should be addressed to:

Solid Waste Management Program
Attn: School Awards

Email: schoolawards@ecy.wa.gov

Standard mail (USPS) 
P.O. Box 47600
Olympia, WA

All other mail carriers 
300 Desmond Dr. SE
Lacey, WA