Go Green Initiative Educates Students, Helps Communities

The Go Green Initiative (GGI) is an environmental education program that helps schools accomplish two things: conserve natural resources for future generations, and protect childrens' health from environmental pollutants. The Pleasanton-based nonprofit organization has become the global leader in environmental education, according to CEO Jill Buck, who says the GGI operates in all 50 states and in 73 countries around the world.

"We believe in the whole-community approach to creating healthy, sustainable communities," says Buck, who founded the GGI in 2002. "Whether the GGI is working in the Tri-Valley or in Camden, New Jersey, we help build strong relationships between schools, local businesses, and local government to achieve shared sustainability goals."

Within the environmental education industry, three things make the GGI stand out. First, everything it offers to schools is free of charge, including training, resources, and materials. Second, the organization works in all types of schools, but tends to specialize in low-income urban districts where resources are scarce. In those schools, the GGI may bring in new funding sources to help the schools implement sustainability initiatives. Third, the GGI leverages its relationships with national organizations such as the National Recycling Coalition and the National School Boards Association to reach out to their local affiliates to help schools in their local areas.

"We run on a shoestring budget, yet we have the largest market share of any environmental education program in the world," says Buck. "Our headquarters is in Pleasanton, yet most residents do not know the breadth or influence of our organization on schools and communities around the globe." Collectively, there are over 2.5 million students and nearly 200,000 teachers involved in GGI schools.

Local high school interns trained by and working for the GGI helped the City of Pleasanton this past summer in its efforts to bring city facilities into compliance with the Mandatory Recycling Ordinance. During that same time the facility department at Oracle's Pleasanton campus also worked on a pilot project with GGI. In return for donations, GGI trained and provide three college interns who conducted a 10-week program to help the campus evaluate its waste system.

The interns conducted a "bin-ventory," which meant mapping all the trash, recycling, and composting bins throughout the entire campus. They conducted a full waste audit of every waste receptacle in the facility, and quantified the level of contamination to determine where improvements might be made. They assessed signage throughout the facility, and worked with Oracle staff to create new graphic designs. Throughout the summer, they also set up an information booth outside the cafeteria and talked with Oracle employees about recycling.

"Oracle was pleased with the outcomes and work product produced by the students, and the interns came away from the experience feeling empowered with a new understanding of how big companies work on sustainability issues," notes Buck. "We have no shortage of talented students who are eager to help Pleasanton businesses become more sustainable. I'd love to put them to work helping Hacienda businesses go green."

In addition to using GGI interns, Hacienda businesses and residents can support GGI by donating directly to the nonprofit or participating in an online auction that opens November 20, 2018 and closes December 9, 2018. The proceeds from the auction will help fund GGI internships for Tri-Valley high school and college students.

For more information about Go Green, please visit gogreeninitiative.org. For more information about the online auction, please visit www.biddingforgood.com/auction/auctionhome.action?vhost=gogreeninitiative.

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