Why food composting can save Westchester’s taxpayer money, big time!

Food waste is around 40% of all waste from households, it is made up of mainly water, thus it is heavy. Garbage cost is calculated by weight. So all this water is costing the tax payer dearly.

Westchester’s garbage is being collected by the municipalities, brought to one of the several transfer stations within the county and from there it is transported in big trucks to the incinerator in Peekskill.

So basically, we are using fossil fuels  (garbage trucks get about 2.6 miles per gallon of diesel fuel) to truck water 50 miles north?

The far better solution would be to sort out all that water laden food waste and actually compost it.  Combine food waste with yard waste and  nature will give us black gold, aka compost.

The absolute best way is to do it right at home. Solon-Compost-Bin-4Have a little bin next to your sink and sort out all your food waste (no bones or meats though, home composters can’t handle that, commercial ones can)

And place that food waste in a ratio of 1 food waste to 3 leaves or woodchips into a composter. It can be a home made one, compost-4-940x626

or a commercially available one like these. And the rest is done by mother nature. Turning the mixture once in a while will introduce oxygen and thus help the bacteria to do a more efficient job. Earth_Machine_close

A few weeks later you will have lovely compost that can be used in your garden.

Most people are afraid that composting will be smelly or attract rodents. With all in life, if it is done right, there is none of that.

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New Rochelle Isaac Young’s Green Team in motion

New Rochelle School District is running the We Future Cycle recycling program for over 6 years now, working its way up the grades. First all the elementary schools then the middle schools and lastly the highschool 2 years ago. Together, 11.500 students are sorting their waste every single day. In the lunchroom and in their classrooms.

Isaac E Young MS has a vibrant Green Team and under the leadership of their Green Team coordinator as well as the head custodian William Coleman, a well oiled recycling machine was created.

20190125_143655Twice per week, teachers put out in the hallway their blue and green recycling bins with carefully sorted materials. Green Team students grab large rolling toters and go from classroom to classroom to collect the materials for recycling.

It creates ownership of the process for the building, the custodial staff appreciates the help and is sponsoring a pizza party for green team members on a regular basis and the kids feel empowered to be part of the solution. A win-win all around. We Future Cycle is proud to be part of this process.

White Plains Rochambeau Teacher ditches the straw

We Future Cycle is in the process of bringing  its lunchroom recycling program to Rochambeau, White Plains Alternative Highschool Campus. Recently we presented the program to the staff in the media center and the librarian shared with us just how easy it is to make the switch away from single use straws. She showed off her reusable cup with her metal straw.

Seeing a video about a plastic straw being removed from the nose of a loggerhead turtle was setting her into motion to research reusable straws and with just a few clicks on the internet found just how affordable they are and how easy they are to clean and to transport in one’s purse.

Being environmentally responsible is not rocket science, it just takes a tiny little bit of planning. We all make sure we have our wallet and our phone with us at all times, it is no stretch to include our reusable straw in its tiny carrier and our reusable bags that fold into a tiny ball. 71pehv-prpl._sl1500_

Yes, we can do this. And this teacher shows just how easy it is.

Why Recycling and Energy Efficiency go hand in hand….. to save our Earth

We Future Cycle is working actively in the New Rochelle schools to educate students about recycling and material management. Students are sorting their lunch waste every day and by now it is normal business. They know that plastics go in that bin, food and paper goes over there and only soft plastics are placed in trash.
They learned they are diverting 97% of their waste. In the elementary schools, these reduction numbers don’t really get a wow from the students, but from middle school on, there is the dawning of some understanding of the scope. Students also learn in classroom session what happens to the different materials that they sort out. These presentation really cement that sorting will become second nature and transfers to other times in their lives.
We Future Cycle is now including energy efficiency awareness training, afterall energy efficiency is effectively the REDUCE in the 3 Rs.
27625287_1711151925595102_1401935894197184112_oBecause of course, Energy efficiency is nothing else than energy management on a personal level. Energy that is being created at environmental cost, provided  and used, but ultimately wasted is a burden on our pocket book and a burden on the environment.
Energize New Rochelle can help home owners to assess their own homes in terms of how energy efficient they are. We all are spending a significant amount per month to heat and cool our homes and on average, we could save 30% of that cost by following some simple steps.
Learn more about how you can become energy efficient and save money (and save the environment) by signing up for a free or reduced cost Home Energy Assessment with Energize New Rochelle.

 

Saving the environment and our pocket book goes hand in hand.

New Rochelle Ward School recycles boxes and boxes of markers

Once a week, a swarm of green team students are fanning out over the New Rochelle Ward Elementary building to collect used up markers from each classroom.

Students have learned that most materials can be recycled if they are just sorted properly and under the leadership of Mr Nodiff, the science teacher,  boxes and boxes of markers are diverted from the incinerator to be shipped to Crayola for recycling.

Never underestimate kid power when it comes to creating change!

We Future Cycle is partnering with Energize NY bringing energy efficiency to Westchester homes

Brrh, it is cold outside. No parent would let their kid leave the house without a proper coat, a hat and some gloves. Parents know, unprotected skin gets cold and its important to make the envelope around the kid air tight.

Energize NY is a not-for-profit organization that helps NY residents to put a proper coat, hat and gloves on their homes. With skyrocketing energy costs, heating and cooling our homes is a major expense for every home owner.

Did you know that little things like caulking around windows, upgrading insulation, adding storm windows, bleeding your radiators etc can have a huge impact how much you spend on heating.

Energize NY offers free home energy efficiency inspections to Westchester home owners (did I mention, these inspections are free!) and the inspector will bring cool equipment to test your home for air tightness. Energize NY also offers help and financial support to pay for part or all upgrades necessary to air tighten your home. Participating home owners can see their home heating cost reduced by more than 30% in addition to having a much more comfortable house.

To learn more go to Energize NY

 

White Plains MAS students learn about what happens to their recyclables

White Plains elementary students know all about recycling. No wonder, all schools are participating for years in the We Future Cycle recycling program, sorting their waste in the lunchroom and thus diverting 97% into recycling and composting streams. Mamaroneck Avenue School is a particularly well oiled machine thanks to the super supportive administration and a head custodian fully on board.

However, even though these youngsters are masters of the sorting, when asked what happens to the material, their answer comes a bit hesitantly….”it is getting recycled…?”, the statement more like a question than an answer.

We Future Cycle had recently the opportunity to share the inner workings of a Material Recovery Facility with grade 3, 4 and 5. Students learned in auditorium presentations how the world of science dominates the sorting process by using friction, gravity, magnetism, anti-current. sensors and motion. They learned that materials can only be recycled if they are sorted so cleanly into just THE ONE type of material. They learned about optical scanners, contamination and wishful recycling and they were stunned into silence while learning what it takes to make some of those everyday materials. Can you imagine an auditorium filled with third graders in unison gasping of disbelieve and then stunned silence?

Learning about the environmental foot print of materials is the key to waste reduction. We Future Cycle empowers students to share that message with their caregivers. Nothing is more frustrating to a child that just learned to embrace sustainability, only to find non-recyclable stuff in their lunchbox every day. MAS students pledged to be agents of change in their community. Way to go!

New Rochelle Barnard embracing Zero Waste

We Future Cycle was honored to be invited to the Barnard PTA meeting, kicking off the effort of this years Co-President Bryan Grossbauer to embrace Zero Waste at all school related events. Parents had heard from their little troopers about the recycling in the lunchroom but were quite astonished to learn just HOW good their kids were in terms of source separation. Barnard has consistently less that 1 pound of trash at the end of lunch.

The presentation walked through the steps of the program, shared the impressive reduction numbers of consistently in the high 90% and educated parents to where the garbage goes and its unbelievable cost to the tax payer.

However, we can not recycle our way to Zero Waste. Reduction and elimination of non-recyclable materials are the only ways to get closer towards Zero Waste.

Holding up a juice pouch, I asked parents how they liked them and a lively discussion about different brands started. There was a shocked silence, when I shared just how much I hated them. Someone contributed that they are just so convenient to put into their kids lunchbox. I began explaining that juice pouches offer no visual control of the product inside, students have a hard time putting the straw in and most get messy while doing it, leaving them with sticky fingers to be conveniently wiped on their pants.

But the worst about juice pouches is that they are non-recyclable. They end up in the trash, being trucked to the incinerated to be burnt there, with the ash subsequently being trucked to PA to be landfilled.  Westchester County sends 2500 tons of garbage to the incinerator every single day, at a cost of $200,000 per day.

Our idea of convenience is actually very very inconvenient. Not just in terms of the cost to society and the environment, but also for our kids. They just learned how bad garbage is and still …… are made to contribute to it….. everyday.

The best way to be zero waste is to send reusables to school with the students, reinforcing the environmental lessons they are learning.

And Barnard PTA has just pledge to do that.