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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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.

 

 

 

 

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!