As we face increasing environmental concerns on both the local and global levels, it is important to effectively educate our children on these issues to best prepare them for the challenges of their future. At Burke's, we are committed to environmental education, sustainability, and stewardship as an integral part of a 21st-century education. With a campus that sits on 3.5 acres of open space adjacent to National Parks Conservancy land, our physical setting provides an unmatched opportunity for outdoor learning and deeper connections with nature. Classrooms imbued with natural light and sustainable practices integrated into the daily routines of the school reflect our ongoing commitment to a greener Burke's. In 2008, the school developed and adopted a formal Policy Statement on Environmental Sustainability, which continues to guide our efforts. Together with the administration, faculty and staff, students, families, Parents' Association, and Board of Trustees, we are all working to further our sustainability goals.

How Do We Teach Sustainability?

  • Sustainability curriculum, including both Upper and Lower School "Reduce, reuse, and recycle" units as well as a school-wide recycling and composting program, led by our third graders;

  • Waste reduction program that significantly lowers landfill waste from our campus and community events, including Family Festival, thanks in large part to our sixth grade Green Team;

  • Learning Garden and Native Plant Garden that provide hands-on learning for our Lower School students;

  • New facilities that are highly energy efficient, as well as ongoing efforts to shrink our carbon footprint, such as the addition of motion-sensitive light monitors in all kindergarten classrooms;

  • Reduced paper usage throughout the school, from our paperless electronic annual report and strategic use of online educational resources to recycled materials for arts and crafts;

  • Waste-free lunches and class parties as a school ethos;

  • A comprehensive energy audit to serve as a roadmap for further efficiency improvements to our facilities.

We look forward to our continued work as a community to strengthen our school's commitment to sustainability and encourage everyone at Burke's to join us in this important effort! Look below for more information on ways to be green at Burke's.

List of 4 items.

  • Carpool

    Carpools are a great way to get to know other families within our school community and decrease the number of cars driving to and from school. At the beginning of the school year, each family at Burke's receives a customized email with a list and map of the ten closest Burke's families. To see the families that live closest to your home or work, visit the family directory and select the map view.
  • Waste-Free Campus Events

    Throughout the year, parent volunteers help organize lunches, parties, and events in the classrooms and for campus guests.   Each of these events give us an opportunity to think about how to reduce the waste being generated and host parties and events that create little or no waste.  
    Planning Ahead Room parents or lead volunteers for events are responsible for submitting event planning forms two weeks in advance of the event. This process allows volunteers to communicate to both the kitchen and facilities their event needs and ensures that resources can be made available to make each event a success. Please complete an event form and email it directly to Cathy Tritschler-Hall. Please include Sahara O’Hanlon, our primary Acre contact, for all events that require kitchen resources.

    Plates, Bowls, Cups and Utensils The Acre kitchen can provide reusable plates, bowls, cups, and utensils for function needs. On the day of the event, kitchen staff will have these items placed in bus tubs and ready to be picked up by parent volunteers. After the event, parent volunteers should return these items to the kitchen to be washed. Please separate bowls and glasses from plates and stack all plates. Please note that if your event is taking place in the evening after normal kitchen hours you will have to make special arrangements with ACRE staff. There may be a staffing cost if a kitchen supervisor is required stay later than usual.

    Napkins Compostable paper napkins are available for events. Please be sure that used napkins are composted not-land filled.

    Table Linens and Decorations The school maintains a supply of reusable table linens that can be used for events. Requests for table linens should be included on the event planning form. If table decorations are being purchased, please choose reusable or compostable items.

    Responsible Clean-Up and Waste Disposal Please ensure that there is compost, recycling and garbage containers available as needed for clean-up. Please help participants and volunteers properly sort their waste. Dirty table linens should be returned to facilities staff for laundering and reuse.

    Every event and class party is unique. Some involve student art projects that children bring home. Some bring the class together for a joint cooking project.  As a school community, we count on all our volunteers to take a moment to consider the waste that will be generated and think creatively about how to reduce our waste and our impact on the environment. 
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  • Buy Used Uniforms

    We are proud to offer used uniform clothing at a reasonable price to the Burke's community. Our main goals are to ease the financial burden for parents and to promote a sensible ethic of reuse and recycling at Burke's. All proceeds from our sales benefit the Parents' Association, which in turn supports student financial assistance and faculty and staff professional development.

    When And Where Can I Buy Used Items?

    Used items can be purchased at the Used Uniform Sale and throughout the year by contacting the Chairs.

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  • Properly Sort Your Trash

    Confused about what goes in what trash bins at school, in the lunchroon, or at home? Watch our quick video demonstration by Lower School Science teacher, Elizabeth McDonald, to learn just how to sort your trash.
    Ever wonder how long it takes for things to decompose in our landfills? Check out some of these crazy but true landfill facts:
    • Banana - 3 to 4 weeks
    • Paper Bag - 1 month
    • Cotton Rag - 5 months
    • Wool Sock - 1 year
    • Cigarette Butt - 2 to 5 years
    • Leather Boot - 40 to 50 years
    • Rubber Sole (of a boot) - 50 to 80 years
    • Tin Can (soup or vegetable can) - 80 to 100 years
    • Aluminum Can (soda pop can) - 200 to 500 years
    • Diaper - 500 years
    • Plastic 6-Pack Rings - 450 years
    • Plastic Jug - 1 million years
    • Styrofoam Cup - Unknown? Never?
    • Glass Bottle - Unknown? Never?
    Read More
Want to do more? Participate in the Parents' Association Sustainability Committee, which works collaboratively with the board sustainability committee to help minimize the impact of school events and activities on our environment, support green initiatives, and serve as a resource for our families. 

Policy Statement

The Katherine Delmar Burke School is committed to nurturing lifelong values of environmental responsibility and stewardship in our students through the education and practices of sustainability at our school, and to fostering in students a strong connection with nature in order to prepare them for meaningful engagement with environmental issues throughout their lives. Our commitment to sustainability also reflects the responsibility we recognize to lead by example in our broader community.

The school will support this commitment by:

  • Encouraging and supporting the integration of environmental literacy, values, and practices into the school's curriculum and programs;
  • Optimizing the use of our unique outdoor campus and proximity to open space to connect our students with nature through hands-on, place-based learning that supports their cognitive, emotional, and aesthetic development, and furthers their understanding of the natural world;
  • Integrating environmental sustainability into everyday decisions and practices affecting the school's culture and physical plant.
Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.


An independent K–8 school for girls
7070 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone: 415.751.0177 Fax: 415.666.0535
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