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.

Advertisements

Teaching Students Young To Care. Family Services of Westchester introduces WeFutureCycle Recycling Program into Pre-k programs

One of the added benefits of teaching young children about recycling is, that they LOVE the hands-on sorting portion. And at least one of the cute youngsters will want to sit on my lap during the presentation. It is just delicious having bright eyed 3 year olds in front (and on top) of you and asking them to identify a material and then place it in the correct recycling bin.

Family Services of Westchester is serving White Plains youngest students in their seven head start centers throughout White Plains. As the We Future Cycle recycling program is now running in all White Plains public schools, reducing garbage by a whopping 97% through diversion into recycling, excess liquid and composting streams, it made sense to incorporate the little ones already. Get ’em young and they will learn for life.

With wonderful support by each center director and the program director, even 3 year olds will learn that their actions matter and make a difference.

 

White Plains Post Rd Kindergarten Students Eagerly Helping With Recycling

Goosebump alert! I had the pleasure to visit the White Plains Post Rd Elementary School today during K and 1 lunch and it gave me such goosebumps to see loads of K students eager to be part of the solution. Each of these (tiny) troopers ate quickly and then asked to help at the recycling station.

White Plains City School District has implemented the We Future Cycle Recycling Program now in all of their elementary and middle schools, reducing garbage by 97 % in each building through source separation and diversion into recycling and composting streams.

These K students entered school in September and learned how to sort their breakfast and lunch waste in record time. And…. it is something so satisfying to watch a 6 year old casually walking up to the station and carefully sorting his/her materials in the right bin. As I was watching, students even took the time to explain the system to me and then immediately asked if they could help.

Shoulder to shoulder these troopers made sure that all their classmates were doing it right. Seriously ….way to go

 

Osborn Elementary in Rye, NY Achieves a 97% Waste Diversion Rate!

IMG_8918
Osborn PTO Co-President Susan Drouin and her son stand proudly by the recycling & composting station!
Today Osborn Elementary School became the 3rd (and final) elementary school in Rye, NY, to implement the We Future Cycle lunchroom recycling and composting program.  Amazingly, each of the 3 Rye elementary schools achieved a 97% waste diversion rate. 
The waste audit revealed the following results. There were 154 lbs total waste (for about 600 students), including:
Liquid: 33lbs (21%)
Commingled (hard plastic, cartons & juice boxes): 29 lbs (19%)
Compost (food & paper): 62 lbs (40%)
Trays (also compostable): 25 lbs (16%)
Trash: 5 lbs (3%)
Only 3% of the lunchroom waste was trash!
Head custodian Tim Connick built 2 recycling stations with countertops; he drilled holes into the countertops, revealing the bins for recycling and waste materials underneath. The counters help keep the system well-organized.  The lunchroom aides were extremely engaged and helped the students adjust to the new system.
As usual, the kids were thrilled with their new lunchtime activity and with creating a healthy environment! Many children ran over to the recycling station with their eyes wide and mouths open in astonishment that launch day was finally here. You would have thought it was Christmas morning and they’d just seen the presents that Santa left under the tree! Their enthusiasm will surely continue as Osborn students are a very thoughtful group. During our classroom presentations to train the K-5 children, they asked “Where does aluminum foil come from?” “How many bags of trash has our school already generated this year?,” “Why don’t we reuse trays?,” and “How do cars get recycled?”  We hope they continue to be inquisitive and apply everything they learn to their lives!
Thank you to the Osborn administration, teachers, aides, PTO and students for giving the We Future Cycle team such a warm welcome and for your commitment to ensuring a healthy environment in the Rye community!

 

White Plains Schools Racing Toward Zero Waste

All of White Plains elementary and middle schools are running the We Future Cycle recycling program in their lunchroom. All schools have reduced their waste by a whopping 95-98%, and are looking at just a few pounds of soft plastic as garbage coming out of their lunchroom, down from the hundreds. All the rest is either excess liquid, commingled recycling or food waste to be composted.

Before implementation these school generated a combined 1317 lbs of waste each day, resulting in daily White Plains garbage trucks to empty bulging 6 yard trash containers.

Since implementation, each custodian is casually slinging a single fluffy bag of garbage composed of plastic baggies, chip baggies or cookie wrappers over his  pinky finger  to carry outside. Lonely this bag sits in the container until it gets joined by the night clean garbage. So, all schools combined generate a mere 44 lbs of garbage out of breakfast and lunch together. WOW!

White Plains data per day

Here is that data extrapolated for the full school year of 180 days. A reduction of 118 tons of garbage through simple sorting. That is incredible!

White Plains data per year

White Plains schools are not stopping there, the race is on for zero waste!

We Future Cycle has also implemented a robust building wide sorting program, placing signage and recycling bins in each classroom, office and at strategic spots in the hallways. Regularly, we weigh and spot check what is being discarded and are delighted to report that some schools have reduced their building waste to a mere 25 lbs! From 700+ students.

White Plains schools are competing with each other towards zero waste! A worthwhile goal.

This is what 25 lbs of garbage looks like from a large middle school! 20171121_094958

Compare this to just lunch waste from one school without sorting.DSCN1900

 

New Rochelle Middle School is Digging Soil To Combat Climate Change

New Rochelle Albert Leonard middle school students are digging soil, in a literal kind of way.

6th graders explored in We Future Cycle classroom sessions the connections between throwing food waste in the garbage and climate change. Learning about methane and leachate got their attention. Just thinking past the garbage can is eye opening for these students.

While New Rochelle’s entire student population is now sorting their lunch waste between Commingled Recycling, Food Waste and Trash, thus reducing trash by a whopping 97%, they have not quite learned what actually happens to the food waste.

In classroom presentations, student were walked through the chemical process of decomposition, they chuckled a bit when asked if the banana looks the same when it comes back out and they quickly got the concept of nutrients, water and energy being the basis for life.

Making connections between how the apple tree takes nutrients out of the ground to grow the apple, which in turn nourishes our body when we eat it, and how the left over  still contains many nutrients that could benefit the soil if put back, but creates havoc if treated as garbage and dumped in a landfill, was a completely new line of thought to all students.

Students had the chance to dig through soil samples, seeing and touching the difference organic matter made in soil samples. They were tasked to make determination in terms of water retention capabilities, nutrient content and how plants might like to grow in that particular soil. Social Studies questions were introduced for students to think about how a the quality of soil might affect the wealth of a country.

What started out with students looking somewhat puzzled at three soil samples on their desk, ended in some fabulous essays about why composting is so important to the survival of our world. Great job Albert Leonard students.

 

 

 

 

We Future Cycle Brings E-Waste Recycling Education to Schools to Improve Dismal 3% Cell Phone Recycling Rate

1 billion cell phones were produced in 2015, with a growth rate of 14% annually. A shocking number especially looking at the dismal recycling rate of 3%.

We Future Cycle is bringing E-Waste Recycling Education to Middle Schools in New Rochelle as part of the Science curriculum. Students were asked to raise one hand if they owned a cell phone, and both hands if they had changed their cell phone in the past 18 months. Every single student raised both hands!

Every cell phone contains valuable metals such as copper, tin, silver, gold, cobalt, nickel, aluminum and lithium, not to mention the rare earth minerals like Neodymium, Yttrium, Terbium, Cerium and Europium. Without these metals, there would be no handy device.

Students learned about mining techniques and the unbelievable environmental destruction that goes hand in hand with mining in countries with little or no environmental oversight.

Touching upon child labor in African cobalt mines, learning about mercury contamination in the Amazon while mining for gold and seeing pictures of nickel mines in Mozambique was hard for students. They recoiled in their chairs and some even pushed their ever present phone on their desk to the far corner.

Peru-Gold-Mining-AsnerConnecting students to the origin of the devices they are using is the basis for them to become global citizens and to become engaged in responsible practices.

Students learned about the dismal recycling rate of only 3%, and they all admitted that they have drawers full of antiquated devices not knowing what to do with them.

New York State now requires all consumers to recycle e-waste in a responsible manner. It is against the law to discard a broken computer in the trash. Cell phones however are so small that it is easy to slip into the kitchen trash, but consumers are literally discarding gold!.

According to the EPA : 1 million cell phones contain 75 lbs of gold, 33 lbs of palladium, 35,274 lbs of copper and 772 lbs of silver, just to name a few. 

Recycling metals reduces its environmental foot print by a whopping 90-95%

Recycling cell phones is easy! Just drop them off at any retailer, they are by law required to take them back at no charge. To protect your privacy, take the SIM and other memory chip out and cut it in half.

 

 

New Rochelle ALMS Students Learn What Happens When They Flush “gasp”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Learning about Waste Water Filtering

Students looked somewhat bored when they heard that they will learn about water and one student piped up smartly :”I know, I know it’s H2O, has a Ph of 7 and can exist in liquid, solid and gaseous state”

With a smile, I asked that student where her water comes from and after a fraction of hesitation came a much more subdued “out of the faucet”…… phrased more like a question than a statement. And she was suddenly wide awake and much more interested.

New Rochelle School District understands that environmental literacy cannot stop at the lunchroom recycling but should be carried throughout the curriculum to have students internalize that their every day actions have a big impact on the environment. Albert Leonard Middle School has invited Anna Giordano into the classroom and students are learning as a curriculum add-on about the environmental foot print of something as mundane as turning on the faucet.

Walking students through where their drinking water comes from, what steps it has to go through before it arrives conveniently at their kitchen faucet was quite eye opening for them.

A collective gasp was heard upon being asked what they think happens when they flush.

Students took a second to process the word “Bio Solids” but quickly chuckled. Seeing pictures of the New Rochelle Waste Water Treatment plant put into prospective the monumental task it is to keep society going.

We covered the steps in the Waste Water Treatment plant and how communities have implemented waste water to drinking water programs. Students shuddered by the thought of former toilet water making its way back into the faucet, but realized at some point that reality requires this and it is ultimately cheaper than ocean water desalination.

And learning about the marketing hoax of bottled water was the true eye-opener for students. Can you imagine 7th graders coming up to express thanks for teaching them about water? Well, it was heartwarming and truly special!