Earth Team Cancels All Program Events Due to Air Quality Conditions

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Dear Earth Team community,

We wanted to share with all our  2018-19 Sustainable Youth Program interns and friends some thoughts regarding our planned events and the air quality issues in the Bay Area as a result of the Camp Fire.  This unprecedented fire is having a profound impact on communities across Northern California.  Although the fire may not directly impact us in the Bay Area, we have all been experiencing here the harmful effects of poor air quality.

Due to current circumstances, Earth Team will be canceling all program events beginning on Saturday, November 17th through Monday, November 26th.  All weekend events will be rescheduled to a later date, and weekly afterschool meetings will reconvene after Thanksgiving break.

Our intention is always to provide consistent programs for our students, holding to our schedules and plans, but safety is always first.

Earth Team would like to thank all of our interns and supporters for working together to improve the environment.

Please reach out to Joelle Alley at with any questions or concerns, and Happy Thanksgiving to all.


Earth Team Staff .


Student’s Play by Play of the SWAP Kick Off Conference!

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*Student Blog*

The event started with everyone meeting at the education center. Everyone talked to people they hadn’t met before and introduced themselves to others. Everyone then sat down for a quick introduction. They briefly went over what we were going to do and what the event was about. After this, the coordinators broke everyone up into two separate groups. Some people went on a tour of the facility while others stayed in the building to watch a movie about the effects of plastic straws another waste on the Ocean. My group watched the movie. The film was well done and used substantial evidence to support its claims, while also using images to create an emotional response from the audience.

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Once the two groups came back together, they gave us a more in-depth description of the facility as well as the goals of the conference. The StopWaste keynote speaker cared a lot about everything going on and was inspiring to hear her talk about it. We split into many smaller groups and began a food preparation activity. The goal of this activity was to show us how we could waste less in the kitchen and make meals from food we would usually throw away.

The next activity was a remake of capture the flag, with the goal of teaching everyone how to better sort trash. Once we played two rounds of the game, they took us inside and gave everyone vests to walk up to the upper building. During this, they gave us a quick explanation of what the garments did and the safety precautions they provided. The walk up to the building was a lot shorter then I expected which made the rain not feel as bad.

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After this was our presentation which I think went exceptionally well. I stuttered at the beginning which surprised me because presenting is never something I’ve had a problem with. However, this barely affected the presentation, and the activity went well and got our point across.

The event was a good experience, and I am glad I got the opportunity to be a part of it.


An Eye-Opening Tour of the Davis Street Transfer Station – Student Play by Play

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*Student Blog* 

When we arrived we all gathered and put on safety vests along with goggles and hard hats. Once everyone had their safety materials on we walked over to a trash pit where trucks delivered and separated trash. We learned that the pit was separated, one side was a commercial waste while one side was a residential waste. We stud in the pit observing and learned that some of the waste that comes into the pit are things like cardboard, textiles, and although it should not be in the pit the majority of the trash was food.

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After seeing the pit we walked downstairs to go outside and saw that waste management separates their trash into different sections. We saw piles of the waste of things such as cardboard, styrofoam, and wood. Another pile consisted of things like plants, they added anything that was compostable. The last pile was the pit itself where they had commercial and residential waste.

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The next step on our tour was in the Office/control room in the middle of a building of machines. There, she explained the separation of woods, metals, and cardboard on a conveyor belt. At this Waste Management ( Davis Street Transfer Station) they recycled those materials to send them to other places, which allows people to reuse them. She took us to where they began the process of doing that; separating bigger items. There were two conveyor belts, both had shoots that were attached to their sides with a color code. There was red, green, and black. She explained to us that usually there are workers between each shoot that are taking the materials off the belt (Such diligent work, I got a lot of respect because that much be really hard). Also that there were two shifts 4am-12pm and 1pm-9pm (I could never). We went outside and we saw the different wood chips that they make.

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The tour was actually so cool. I always see these wood chips thinking they were bad because they are dyed weird colors, but she told us that they were made up of all natural dyes. 

Thank you Davis Street Transfer Station for letting us see your facility!


Youth’s Thoughts on the Straws Documentary

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*Student Blog*

On Saturday at the Davis Street Transfer Station, we started our day by watching the optional “Straws” documentary. The documentary revealed to us the impact of the tiny plastic straws when used on the scale that we use them. The millions of straws we use on a daily basis invade environments and destroy the habitats of many different types of animals. The so-called “poster child” of the plan to take plastic out of restaurants and stores was a sea turtle that got a straw stuck in its nose. The turtle likely ate the floating straw thinking it was food and when it tried to regurgitate the straw, it got stuck in its nose.

The movement to stop using plastic straws has taken off in Costa Rica, Cuba, and parts of the United States where the alternatives of paper straws and stainless steel straws have become more common. Most people don’t notice the difference between these straws other than the fact that they are different because their effectiveness is almost identical. The message behind this was that there are things that we can do that will not make our lives significantly harder but can have a positive effect on the environment such as decreasing our use of plastic straws. This was a good way to start the day because it set the tone for the rest of the day of talking about decreasing the waste we produce and sending less and fewer things to the landfill.


Preparing for the Green Team Summit!

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Student Blog 

During our after-school meeting, we came together to plan our day at the Green Team Summit. Our team chose to focus on the importance of communicating with staff such as administrators, custodians, and teachers. With our goal being to educate students the different types of adults they may run into while they attempt to implement the sorting system at their school.

After establishing our goal, we came up with a way to present our information and tips about implementing the sorting system. We all worked together to decide who was best for each role then split up into stations and worked on our part.

Marco and I were on the presentation committee since we would be presenting at the Green Team Summit. We planned and put together a presentation explaining why it is essential to have healthy and positive connections with the staff at our schools. Staff can often contribute positively or in some cases hinder a team’s ability to implement the sorting system. The team is still in the process of finalizing the workshop for the Green Team Summit.

We are all looking forward to the day!

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Written By: Kathy, Oakland Tech Intern 


Surveying 3-Bin System Infrastructure at Oakland Tech

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Student Blog 

For the campus brute survey, we received a map with the location of all our sorting systems. The purpose of the brute survey was to check on our bins and observe what needed to be changed or kept at each station. The brute survey helped us understand what stations needed more recycling, landfill, and compost bins.

To begin, we distributed the walkie-talkies and then split up into groups and decided one group would check on stations located inside and the other group would check on stations located outside. We all went to the stations and looked to see that all the bins matched the ones on the map. Once we were done, we met back up at the classroom and then discussed all the new changes that needed to be made. The campus brute survey was useful because it helped us organize, replace, and add bins where they were most needed at Tech.

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Written By: Kathy, Oakland Tech Intern 


Preparing a Lesson Plan for the Green Team Summit

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Student Blog 

During this after-school meeting, we came together to plan our day at the Green Team Summit. Our team chose to focus on the importance of communicating with staff such as administrators, custodians, and teachers.

Our goal was to educate students about the different types of adults they may run into while they implement the sorting system at their school. After establishing our goal, we came up with a way to present our information and tips about implementing the sorting system.

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Written By: Katheline, Oakland Tech Intern 

The team is still in the process of finalizing the workshop for the day. Our team is looking forward to the day!

Supporting our Custodial Team

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Student Blog 

Meeting with custodial staff during a sorting system project is crucial because it gives insight into their perspective and any comments, concerns, and questions they may have. Oakland Tech Earth Team recently held a custodial meeting. Before we did this, we prepared by recording the key points we wanted to speak with them about.

These included materials to make their jobs easier, things we could do to support them, our concerns about the brute stations around the school, and anything else they wanted to speak with us about. It is important for us to have good communication and relationships with the staff at our school to make their jobs and our jobs run as smoothly as possible.

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We decided to assist with their cleaning routes after our meeting as a way to repay them for lending us their time. Asha and I helped to clean out the sorting systems in classrooms and sweep the hallways with a custodian. It was interesting to see how people are sorting in the classrooms because we usually only go through brute stations during audits. It also helped us to understand the job better. Interacting with the staff both during the meeting and afterward on their cleaning routes felt good because we got acquainted (reacquainted for Jenna and repeaters) with them, were able to hear their wants and needs, and could experience their concerns for ourselves.

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It was a learning experience for all involved and came with some surprises, such as how drastic the amount of contamination in different classrooms was. I would like for custodians to know that we are very open to hearing their input and they can and should share their comments, concerns, and questions with us whenever they feel it is necessary.

Written By: Jade, Oakland Tech Intern 

Hear from our team and what they thought about the experience!

“I was really surprised to see how much they do. There were so many things for us to push around and carried I don’t know how someone could do that by themselves. And also all of the smells. Like it was smelling so gross and weird things in the bins. I appreciate them for biting the bullet and doing that for us. it was hard work.” – Asha

“I could not imagine doing that every day, it was really interesting to see a completely different path in life from the people I know. I think it’s really good and constructive to hear their input.” – Jade

“I enjoyed getting to know the janitor. It was interesting seeing for the first time how a janitor does his job. I realized that it’s pretty hard to be a janitor and they should never be ridiculed for their job.” – Espen

“It was really good. Or castoffs was really nice and outgoing. Our custodian seemed to know the teachers in his area decently” – Marco

“it was interesting to do the routes with the custodians I realized how much contamination was happening at Tech I think it would be helpful to educate teachers on the three bin system and to tell their students about it” – Kathy

“Working with the custodians was pretty cool because we got to see the skills that they use every day that we usually overlook. I also liked working with a custodian because he showed such great gratitude for the small amount of help that We gave showing how much he appreciates student interactions” – Jaiden


Defining What Respect Means for our Team

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On Wednesday, students gathered in the van and headed out to Temescal Park for a significant meeting. The team sat in a circle and dedicated time to talk about respect; the goal was to come up with a group definition of what that would look like throughout the year.

Here from a student on what they thought about the day.

Student Blog

I remember that I didn’t want to do this circle. I’m a little bit of a shielded person, so I was nervous to have all of my information and inner thoughts all out in the open. Once we got into the flow of people sharing, it was a really good experience. We sat in a big circle, and we all shared something we felt about respect or a definition we had for it.

We talked about what respect looks like, how it feels to receive respect and the overall importance of it. It was very interesting to sit there because everyone had something different to say so I was able to get a new and different perspective on who everyone was in the group. In the beginning, I remember just sitting there and listening so that I could take it all in. I remember then sharing what I was feeling I think it was connecting to be able to share what I was feeling and then hearing that other people were agreeing with me and building off of different things we were saying.

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Written by: Asha, Oakland Tech Intern 

The remainder of the day was spent getting to know one another a bit more and enjoying the beautiful day!