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Other Green Programming

Many additional programs throughout the district enhance our green efforts:

Bus Emission Reduction
The non-profit Minnesota Environmental Initiative provided funding for the Minneapolis Public Schools to retrofit 40% of MPS-owned diesel buses with special recirculation valves to significantly reduce emissions. The focus for this program has been on older buses since newer buses in the fleet already comply with more stringent federal emission standards.
Food Packaging
MPS Nutrition Services serves approximately 25,000 meals every day during the school year. In spring of 2010 Food Services found an inexpensive bio-degradable and compostable paper tray to serve meals on. This enabled MPS to switch from Styrofoam trays to paper trays.  Using environmentally friendly packaging continues to be cost prohibitive, but efforts have been made over the last few years to significantly reduce the amount of packaging that is used. For example, investments were made in 2007 to retool packaging machines to “overwrap” or seal food containers rather than the traditional method of wrapping the entire package with plastic. This change cut the amount of waste produced by half. Nutrition Services continues to seek recyclable/biodegradable packaging that will fit into an already stretched budget.
Walking and Biking to School
The Safe Routes to Schools program, a joint effort between MPS and the City of Minneapolis, is a movement to get kids fit, reduce the district’s carbon emissions from bus/car transport, and improve academic achievement by encouraging kids to walk and bike to school in greater numbers. Through an information campaign, bike/walk ambassadors, and mini-grants to schools, Safe Routes to School is making a big impact on the wellness of MPS kids and our environment. For example, before new bike racks were installed at South High School, just 30 students rode their bikes to school. After the installation, 150 students began pedaling to campus. By actively supporting bike/walk efforts at Nellie Stone Johnson, nearly 50 percent of kids now walk or bike to school even though only 19 percent live in the official “walk zone.”
Acquiring and Disposing of Equipment and Supplies
MPS schools and departments make a great effort to responsibly acquire and dispose of equipment and supplies. The Building Maintenance Shop recycles all scrap metal and brush and the Transportation Department sends oil from MPS buses to a recycler. The Facilities Department employs a retired principal to connect schools and departments to surplus equipment and furniture so they do not have to buy new items. In cases where schools and departments do need to purchase new items, increasingly they are making sustainable choices. In the first quarter of 2008, 20-percent of office and cleaning supplies purchased were made from recycled materials.
Green Cleaning
After testing out the efficacy of environmentally-friendly cleaning products during the 2008-2009 school year, the district determined that green cleaning products are equally effective and less expensive than the products that have been traditionally used. These green cleaning products have been rolled out district-wide for the 2009-2010 school year.