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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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!

 

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.

 

 

 

 

New Rochelle Trinity 5th Grader Wins Research Essay Contest

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt pays to play! That is something that proud winner Edison Diggs learned in a very rewarding way. He was the winner of the We Future Cycle sponsored Research Essay Contest with the topic “Aluminum Foil: The cost of convenience”

Students learned in a We Future Cycle presentation about the enormous environmental foot print of Aluminum foil and all just so we can wrap our sandwich in it?

Edison Diggs skillfully drew his readers in by asking a simple question:

“Have you ever wondered where that Aluminum foil you use to wrap that lever pizza comes from?” Well, it isn’t made in a lab like you might think, it actually comes from the Earth. Unfortunately, that isn’t good for the Earth in the long term. There are many reasons as to why we shouldn’t use aluminum foil.

Aluminum has to be mind from the Earth, so that means companies have to find somewhere to put the dug up dirt, so they tear down trees to make room for dirt, meaning that the countries that these companies use for mining have torn down some of the crops from the people living there. Also, these companies dig out holes, they remove the top soil, which means that plants will never to grow in that spot again because the companies never clean up what they have done? Why don’t these companies clean up? It makes no sense!

To make aluminum you have to mine for rocks containing Bauxite, but only a small percentage of Bauxite is found in each rock. To find the Bauxite, the rocks go through a series of machines, leaving behind so much toxic rock waste. And what do you think the companies do? They dump it somewhere else! Now for each time these companies mine, they leave at least 2 large patches of land, where plants will never grow again. These companies only care about what goes to their pockets, not their effect on the world.

Because Bauxite has to go through so many machines and has to be transported, we use a lot of energy. Making aluminum uses so much energy that there are power plants made only for aluminum production. Also so much money is used to build these power plants that can be used for many other things like cleaning the mess the companies leave. Using all of this energy in turn produces greenhouse and those gases damage the atmosphere. Why are we still using aluminum foil if it damages our atmosphere and uses so much energy and money? Why should we still use aluminum foil if we know how bad it is for our Earth? The answer is “We shouldn’t” There are so many other Eco friendly solutions to using aluminum foil, like reusable containers. So, think about all of these harmful effects before you wrap that leftover pizza in aluminum foil.

Be good and stop using Aluminum foil!

 

4 other students wrote excellent research papers and received an honorable mentioning. Renee Haywood, Zelda Sill, Guadalupe Zepeda and Elias Rodriguez.

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Locker Clean Out! A Recycling Challenge Mastered by New Rochelle IEYMS

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe annual process of locker clean out entailed until today a line of garbage cans in each hallway, and students just taking armful over armful of stuff out of their lockers to dump. A school of 1500 kids would easily generate 7500 lbs of material, all in over 100 plastic bags. A tremendous cost to the school in terms of man power, bags and carting cost.

New Rochelle’s Isaac E. Middle School tackled this challenge with the help of We Future Cycle. The school has adopted the We Future Cycle recycling program last year and has since diverted 97% of its waste into recycling or composting streams. Students are sorting at breakfast, lunch and in their classroom.

So extending that “new normal” behavior into the hallways during locker clean out was no problem at all. All it took was 3 bins, clearly marked, some directions to the students and some supervision, and voila! 98% of the materials from the lockers were sorted into paper recycling or commingled.

Just. Like. That !

100 bags of trash transformed into 9 brimming full paper recycling toters, 2 toters of commingled and maybe a total of 15 lbs of non recyclables.

Way to go Isaac Young students!

New Rochelle Trinity STEAM 5th Graders learning about Aluminum Foil : The Cost Of Convenience

Aluminum foil, wonder of wonder, it wraps sandwiches, and keeps food hot or cold. But what does it actually  take to make aluminum foil?

New Rochelle Trinity 5th grade STEAM students have recently learned all about it, and they all agreed that the cost of convenience for aluminum foil is WAY too high.

Picture1Aluminum does not exist in its free form in nature, instead Alumina silica is found in Bauxite. This ore is mainly found in thin layers in the tropics.

To get it, trees and soil are removed and the bauxite containing soil is mined and crushed. Sodium Hydroxide is added to dissolve the Alumina silica which is then smeltered to remove the last oxygen to become Aluminum.

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Is our convenience worth the environmental destruction that Bauxite mining causes? And the failed clean up by mining companies when the mineral is exhausted?

I think not!

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New Rochelle Middle School Students Dig Healthy Soil, literally!

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We Future Cycle recently taught a workshop about food composting to all 6th graders at the Isaac E. Young Middle School.

Before We Future Cycle set up the recycling program in all of New Rochelle schools, students were taught in the lunchroom to “just throw all their garbage out”. And the result were heaps of bulging and dripping bags of garbage every day. Since the implementation, students are sorting their waste into excess liquid, recycling, and composting streams and from the 273 lbs of daily material, only 6.5 lbs are actual trash, whereas 126.5 lbs are food waste and trays that are sent to a commercial composting site in Ulster County.

Students learned what actually happens to their food waste. They learned about the detrimental effect of rotting food in landfills and how it creates methane, a highly toxic, flammable and explosive gas into our air as well as toxic leachate into our ground water.

Students giggled when walked through the decomposition of a banana through their own system, but understood suddenly how it all works. Understanding that the apple tree can only make an apple by using nutrients and water from the ground, these nutrients go into our body when we eat the apple and any left over should go back to the soil, rather than being treated as trash to create methane in the landfill.

Students learned about the magic of taking two things we consider waste ( leaves and food waste) and by combining them and letting nature do its thing, we get black, nutrient rich soil.

As activity, students touched, smelled and observed different soil samples and made determinations as to how plants might like to live in that soil. In the beginning, some kids leaned far away  from the samples put in front of them, but warmed quickly to smelling and touching them, all to say : “oh, it just smells like dirt”.

Yes, hheaderPhoto-learnealthy soil made from food waste and wood chips/leaves. Nature’s magic

Easy to do, all we have to do is sort out our food waste and mix it with woodchips and leaves and after 60 days we have healthy soil. Easy!

 

New Rochelle Jefferson School Proud Recipient Of Westchester County Earth Day Award

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Principal Nieves and Assistant Principal Bruno are proudly displaying their Westchester County Earth Day Award. They are standing under one of the reasons they were chosen for this award.

The “Jefferson Feeds the Garden” Tree is a beautiful display of paper leaves on a display tree. Each leaf signifies that a child brought a completely waste free snack to school, using reusable containers only and eating healthy. The healthy food waste from snack, like the banana peel or apple core went to the composter right next to the lovely raised bed garden.

Under the guidance of Assistant Principal LeAnn Bruno, Jefferson implemented the We Future Cycle Lunchroom Recycling program and reduced its waste by 97%, students learned about class room waste sorting and building waste went down by 50%. Students learned about waste free snacks and healthy food waste started to be composted. Students also learned about litter and it detrimental effects on our Earth and Wildlife and we celebrated it all with a Green Writing Contest. 15 proud winners were loudly cheered by their class mates as they made their way up to the stage to receive their prizes and certificates.

I am breathless just recounting all the environmental programs that We Future Cycle was able to bring to the school thanks to the unwavering support of both Principal and Assistant Principal.

This award is well deserved. Congratulations!