We give a lot of credit to Suzy Amis, wife of director James Cameron, for being an active participant in helping to “green” Hollywood fashion – but we should perhaps reserve even more of our gratitude for her efforts to integrate sustainability with education.
Amis, 49, along with her sister, founded the MUSE elementary school in Malibu, California back in 2005. The idea behind the non-profit, private school was to provide a space for student-driven learning, tapping into the passions that make each child unique. From the site:
“MUSE students launch from our program with a sound academic foundation, skilled in reading, communication, math, art, and design. They’re literate about green technologies, dedicated to preserving the planet, and conscious about what they eat and where it comes from. They’re eager to contribute everything they know to their communities and to the world at large.”
The teaching philosophy is built on the Reggio Emilia Approach (more on that here), but the greening is all Cameron’s – and it’s impressive to say the least. Some highlights:
- The school just went zero-waste – unveiling a sorting unit that separates and recycles everything from glass to metal to broken electronics to discarded office supplies and more.
- According to the LA Times, plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic straws, noncompostable takeaway containers, styrofoam and single-use plastic utensils, plates and cups are all off-limits. The school provides all students with reusable options.
- All food scraps are composted on-site – and all meals are sourced using local and organic ingredients. Eventually, more than 30% of the food eaten will be generated on site.
- The school has a 100% landfill waste diversion system.
- All two-stroke polluting leaf blowers and week whackers that came with the initial property were disassembled into parts “that were then used for the school’s robotics program.” That is so awesome.
- To reduce the population of rodents on the campus, Amis hired a falconer who lives on-site and unleashes his bird on local squirrels. They also provide owls with nesting boxes and brought in “school cats” to control mice. As a result, the vermine population has been reduced by 90%.
MUSE is planning on offering a middle school program starting in fall of 2012 for grades 6th-8th.
The LA Times has more on this amazing school (which will eventually also go off-grid), but our hat is off to the Cameron family for raising the bar on sustainability in education. To learn more about MUSE, jump here.