Members of the Gause Green Team, food service team, and students welcome the new milk dispenser to the school cafeteria, posing with cups of regular or chocolate milk.

Gause Elementary School is the latest area school to install new milk dispensers to reduce both food and packaging waste.

“Clark County received funding from Washington Department of Ecology’s Local Solid Waste Financial Assistance program to work with several Clark County schools to pilot serving milk using dispensers and washable cups rather than cartons,” said Michelle Picinich, Clark County Green Schools Environmental Outreach Specialist. “We are excited to bring this pilot to Washougal!”

As part of the project, the Gause Green Team, made up of students and led by Gause custodian, Ellen Lancaster, conducted a waste audit that will be repeated after the dispenser has been in place for some time. The audit captured a snapshot of the amount of waste, recycling and compost produced in one day, providing a baseline to measure the impact after an environmental project has begun.

Washougal School District Superintendent, Mary Templeton, was on hand at the ribbon cutting to celebrate the new milk dispenser on February 20. She watched as students learned quickly how to take their cup, select chocolate or regular milk and dispense as much as they wanted. “I have already heard from students that they like the taste of milk from the dispenser better than from the cartons,” Templeton said. “It’s about giving them choices, including how much milk to take. It is also important for them to see us taking steps to care for the environment by reducing our use of packaging.”