Our Zero Waste Ambassadors Program (ZWAP!) is a critical piece of our innovative approach to reduce demand on resources, tread more lightly on our public lands, and inspire the next generation of sustainability leaders. This award-winning, STEM-aligned education program now reaches almost 100% of Missoula’s 5th graders annually. Interactive classroom visits, a hands-on field trip to our reuse center, and a tour of Missoula’s landfill teach students about local and global waste impacts.
And these students get it. They come out of ZWAP! empowered to make simple choices (like not taking a lid & straw when they eat out) and know that their choices matter. Better yet, their efforts extend beyond the classroom, integrating sustainable actions into their daily lives and demanding that their schools, families, and community do the same. Their enthusiasm feeds into our other Zero Waste collaborations with the city, MCPS, area businesses and event venues, propelling our community toward a sustainable future.
ZWAP! teaches students the connection between what happens in our community and what happens to the places they camp, fish and hike. Missoula’s new environmental stewards, who live near our nation’s biggest & wildest swaths of public land and bridge socioeconomic, cultural and political divides, share a vision for our world: clean air, water & energy, happy fish, thriving forests, and the occasional solar-powered rocketship.
ZWAP! In the news
ZWAP! Spotlight: Franklin Elementary School Zero Waste Classroom
In 2015, when Kim Johnson’s 5th graders participated in our inaugural ZWAP! lessons, neither she, nor we, realized where ZWAP! would lead in four short years. Today, her 5th grade students run Missoula’s first Zero Waste classroom at Franklin Elementary School and truly embody the spirit of “Zero Waste Ambassadors.”
Through ZWAP! and our Zero Waste community support, we helped encourage, support, and coordinate the details of Kim’s classroom. However, once recycling bins were provided and a compost collection service secured, the students took over. It’s the students who sort the recyclables, wash the reusable flatware (instead of using the standard disposable items provided by the school district), clean the tables with cloth rags (opting not to use paper towels in the classroom), and remind each other about what goes into what bin. ZWAP! encourages students to take their sustainable efforts beyond the classroom, and the Franklin 5th graders are excelling at doing that. This is the future: educated and engaged youth who understand the importance and impact of their actions.
ZW Classroom in the news:
More about ZWAP!