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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Open House in White Plains Elementary School Proves that Students Change Communities

Last night, We Future Cycle hosted an informational table at the White Plains Mamaroneck Avenue School at the Back -To- School Open House. Talking to parents showed that even the K students with only about 10 days of lunchroom sorting under their (tiny) belts brought the information about recycling home and some even effected change already. It was heart warming to hear parents say how excited their kids were about being part to save the world. One mother shared with me that her son told her on day two that she needed to get another bin to sort out recyclables (which she did)

One father shared with me that the favorite word of his brand new kindergarten student is commingled and he sits at dinner and identifies the different materials he sees.

To give some background, White Plains School district hired We Future Cycle in 2015 to implement the recycling program in its elementary schools, moving into the middle schools by 2016 and now starting the HS school. Administration at MAS has been outstanding supporters of this program and this percolates through the building. Students are lining up to help at the recycling stations, students are signing up to help sweep and wipe tables, every single classroom has a recycling stations and while walking the building it was heartwarming to see that every single bin was perfectly sorted.

This proves that environmental education in schools can change communities. It teaches responsibility and personal commitment. All life long lessons. Hats off to MAS students for being the change we want to see in this world.

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New Rochelle High School: Changing the world…3500 students reduce garbage by 90% through sorting.

New Rochelle High School is the largest HS in Westchester County New York, it is more like a college campus with sprawling hallways and mind-boggling amounts of students spilling out of classrooms when the bell rings. 3 cafeterias are on campus feeding these youngsters and until recently were generating a whopping 100 large bags of garbage e.v.e.r.y…s.i.n.g.l.e…l.u.n.c.h ! Filling up 3 dumpsters to the brim just from lunch, and another two large dumpsters from night clean.

New Rochelle School District has embraced the We Future Cycle Recycling Program and steps were put into place over the summer to include the High School. Principal Richardson admitted that he was beyond skeptical about how this program could possibly work in a huge building like the High School. He however vowed his full support.

In order for a recycling program to work, one has to address all players in the building. We Future Cycle did presentations to students, custodial staff, and security personal to outline just how we are all affected by garbage and how simple changes of behavior can make a HUGE difference. Putting the new knowledge to action, students started to sort their waste in the different cafeterias and learned that by simply sorting into excess liquid, commingled recycling and food waste for compost, 90% of the waste is captured and sent to reusable streams.

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This is the commingled recycling from 2 lunches!

Only 10% of the High School waste was trash. A 90% reduction of lunch waste is huge, looking at the sheer number of players involved. Instead of filling up trash containers, the high school is now filling up commingled recycling containers and food waste bins to be composted. Way to go!

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3 food waste bins per day for composting

Principal Richardson is exceedingly proud of his student body and is working with his Science Chair to integrate Environmental and Sustainability Education as Curriculum Add On.

 

 

 

Milton Elementary in Rye Reduces Lunch Waste by 97%!

Milton Elementary launched the We Future Cycle lunchroom recycling and composting program, joining Midland Elementary as the 2nd elementary school in Rye, N.Y. to reduce its lunch waste by 97%!

Milton parent Lesley Reidy and 2nd grade teacher Dayna Reist led the charge to bring the program to the school.  Head custodian Billy Salisbury was the behind-the-scenes hero.  At the end of the last school year, he began to separate the liquids from the waste stream and also had students stack their trays instead of dumping them in the trash with the rest of their leftovers; this change alone reduced the trash from 10-12 bags to 2 bags every day!  His work demonstrated that even small changes make a huge difference in school lunch waste.

Then, Billy and Rye’s Facilities Director, Sam Carder, built a counter to give the recycling station a permanent home. While this is not a “must-have” when launching the program, it’s a nice touch to keep all the bins organized in the proper place every day.  And, it looks great!

After two days of training students in their classrooms, we were ready to launch, eagerly anticipating the results. Our waste audit showed that Milton’s 413 students generate about 95 lbs per waste every day.  Once separated into recycling and composting streams, the waste broke down like this:

Liquid: 22 lbs (23% of total by weight)
Commingled (plastic, cartons and foil): 14 lbs (15%)
Compost (food and paper): 40 lbs (42%)
Trays (also for compost): 16 lbs (17%)
Trash: 3 lbs (3%)

This result is tremendous! A special thank you to the Milton PTO for sponsoring the program and to Principal Dr. Nardone for her support as well. We are thrilled to have Milton on board, and we look forward to bringing additional environmental education to the school in the future.

New Rochelle Trinity Students Prove To Be Life Long Learners

20170531_102026 (2)New Rochelle Trinity Elementary School is a shining example on how teaching students young creates life long behavior changes. Two years ago, We Future Cycle introduced the Waste Free Snack program to the school. All students went through class by class presentations about how to reduce packaging waste from snack in the classrooms in addition to making healthier snack choices.

Part of the program is that the healthy snack waste like the banana peel or the apple core will NOT go in the trash, but will be brought by the students down to the lunchroom to be combined with the lunch compost.

On my recent visits to Trinity I was reminded again that learning young is the basis for life long learning.

Check out this student very carefully transporting and combining her classrooms healthy snack waste with the compost from the lunchroom.

It gave me goosebumps!

Two Dogs, One Walk Around The Block And Three Bags Of Trash

Yesterday, I conducted a social experiment.

I wanted to see what kind of reaction I would get from onlookers when I picked up litter while walking the dogs.

First of all, it was mind boggling just how much litter there was in this upscale Westchester suburbian neighborhood. A 30 min walk, covering maybe 1.5 miles produced 3 large bulging shopping bags of trash. From cans, bottles, cigarette boxes, milk cartons, yogurt containers to multitudes of single serve snack bags.

I was flabbergasted by the sheer number of carefully knotted newspaper sleeves with dog poop in it, draped decoratively on the curb, over someones fence or plainly thrown onto the storm sewer drain. What kind of person goes through the process of picking up after his/her dog and then believes to do the right thing by just dumping the bag somewhere?

The amount of litter in the storm drains is a stark reminder that people plainly do not know that the storm sewer goes directly to the ocean without any filtering step. Whatever washes into them will end up on the local beach as wash up. A sobering thought when going bag to the doggie poop bags.

The result of my social experiment was that every single car occupant that passed us turned their head to check out what we were doing and some rolled down their window to thank us. I believe, that the mere fact that they saw us picking up litter may have inspired others.

Being a role model pays off and it is really not hard to do!

 

We Future Cycle Humbled Recipient of four (!) County and State Awards for Environmental Stewardship

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Last night was one of those moments that will stay with me for life.

At the Beczak Environmental Education Center, a Satellite Campus for Sarah Lawrence College We Future Cycle was honored with not just one award but with four !

County Executive Rob Astorino took time out of his busy schedule to present a Westchester County Proclamations to Anna Giordano. What an honor to have June 8th proclaimed the official We Future Cycle Recognition day. Thank you!

MaryJane Shimpsky, County Legislator District 12, on behalf of Senator George Latimer awarded We Future Cycle the New York State Senate Proclamation and gave a heartfelt speech on how she has followed the progress the organisation made. We Future Cycle presented in the past twice to the Board of Legislators and Ms Shimpsky has always been a big supporter in word and deed. Thank you!

NY State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti presented the NYS Assembly Citation to We Future Cycle on behalf of Assemblyman Steve Otis and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin. Thank you

And to top it all off, We Future Cycle was awarded the Green Seal Award from the Federated Conservationists of Westchester County.

We are humbled and honored by the recognition and are excited to continue our work to make Westchester County school lunchrooms a nearly waste free environment by diverting 97% of the waste into recycling and composting all the while teaching students about how they are making a difference.

Ball Field Recycling and Litter Mitigation, New Rochelle IEYMS is covering all bases

Any school with a ball field attached can attest to the problems of littering. With hundreds of players and parents coming and going to the fields the accumulated material is staggering.

New Rochelle’s Isaac Young Middle School is working hard to being green everywhere. The school is successfully running the We Future Cycle lunchroom and building recycling program and it has just had a flawless locker clean out day with literally tons of paper being diverted into recycling for the first time.

Dan Gonzales, Assistant Principal and Billy Coleman, head custodian, are the driving forces behind bringing sustainability to every corner of the school.

Isaac Young Middle School was chosen as the pilot school for the new We Future Cycle ball field recycling program. This pilot run is designed to answer the question if students can transfer the learned sorting behavior also to other areas of their life if signage and logistics are clear.

20170531_101134Will newly installed recycling bins with clear signage, next to trash cans, also sporting signage and both are flanked with signage motivate participation?

Well, YES!

20170531_101143Monitoring the recycling bin showed that students put the appropriate items into the recycling bin, without a single contaminant. Room for improvement is that there were materials in the trashcan that should have gone into recycling.

Tackling litter mitigation has so far been …… one guy, one grabber and one large black plastic bag. But no more. We Future Cycle introduced litter separation through a simple ring to keep bags open. It takes no effort to put the bottle into recycling and the chip bag into trash, if the bags are held open.

90% of the litter on the field is recyclable and Isaac Young Middle School is showing that it can be done. Just. Like. That.