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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White Plains MAS students learn about inorganic materials in our environment

White Plains MAS students are old hands at sorting their lunchroom and classroom waste. White Plains School district joined the We Future Cycle recycling program 4 years ago and now most of their elementary school population has never experienced anything else but stepping up to the recycling station and carefully separating their food waste from the recyclable and non-recyclable packaging material. White Plains schools are diverting 1850 lbs every day into recycling and composting streams. A 97% reduction of garbage through diversion.

Even the littlest ones are now really good at it. They cannot peer over the top of the bin yet, but -boy- do they know which bin is the right one for which material.

Every September and October, We Future Cycle hands-on trains K students, as well as refreshes the older grades on why we are sorting our waste. Keeping the environmental energy up is key for a vibrant and functioning lunchroom recycling system. Your hands can function much better when your heart is guiding them.

Recently, 2nd graders learned about what is bio degradable and what is not. Learning about how organic and inorganic materials interact with environmental factors such as rain and light is crucial to understand the problems of the longevity of inorganic packaging material in our environment.

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Examining how water interacts with organic materials

Through a scientific experiment students could learn first hand how organic and inorganic materials differ in their reaction to water. It was a messy affair, having 23 students dipping materials into water and rubbing it between their fingers to simulate environmentally induced friction, but they got it! Inorganic material as litter in our environment is a huge problem.

When asked what students could do to address the litter problem, great ideas came bubbling up. Picking up litter, doing trash treasure hunts, showing friends how to be better, bringing snacks in reusable containers to the park…..  These students were fired up to save this world. Seriously way to go!

“It smells just like wet forest” Trinity K students learn how to sort their waste and what compost is.

New Rochelle Trinity Elementary School is entering its 5th year running the We Future Cycle recycling program and students are getting trained on how to sort their lunch waste into compost, recyclables and trash.

Like every year, We Future Cycle presenters swoop upon the school and go from classroom to classroom to playfully introduce the students to the concept of recycling and to the problems attached to garbage. All students start out considering anything empty as garbage. Upon asking if they thought I brought them recycling, they clearly were reconsidering their position and some raised their hands. And they were quite astonished to learn that I just brought them packaging material, and they decided if that became garbage or recycling. It was fascinating to watch how something shifted inside them. THEY decided on something as important as putting something in recycling.

The We Future Cycle Recycling program teaches children to separate recyclable material from food and non recyclable material, and this reduces garbage by a whopping 97%. Trinity is consistently at below 6 lbs of trash from the entire lunch of nearly 1000 students.

Students learned that packaging is similar to Lego. If is put into the correct bin, it can be taken apart again and the same material blocks can be used to build something new. Students totally get that concept!

Learning that left over food can be recycled too was a bit of a stretch for them, but when I showed them what compost looked like and let them smell it, they all agreed that it is much better to make good soil than burn our banana peel.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

White Plains Church St Principal proudly holds stacks of “green essays”

White Plains Church St elementary school was chosen this year as the proud recipient of the coveted Nina Chin Green Writing Grant. Students of grade 3 through grade 5 were invited to voluntarily write an essay on how they personally can make a difference in this world.

Nina Chin was a lifelong educator and she believed that writing is the key to being a better reader and a better person. Every year she sponsored from her own money a writing contest among her students. Upon her passing, her children decided to carry on this lovely tradition and have sponsored one school in Westchester every year.

Over 50 students rose to the challenge and Myra Castillo, Principal, is holding proudly the stacks of essays from her students.

These essays are right now on the desk of two retired teachers that are “judging” them. Ten students will be proud winners of a nice envelope for their work. We cannot wait until the celebration, that is soon to come. Watch this space!

“The Worms are Back!” New Rochelle Webster 1st Graders Learn About Worms

I can tell you, life is not boring when you mix 6 y old kids with a bin of worms.

We Future Cycle presenters came for the 3rd year in a row to Webster’s first graders to teach them about how every living being on earth has an important job to do. With big eyes students followed explanations that worms have no eyes and ears, and that they eat what ever organics are falling in their path and that their castings are good soil.  Slight shuddering went through the kids at this thought.

Students are learning that worms -as all living beings- also need to eat, breathe, reproduce and die. Audible gasps came as response to the fact that worms have no nose and are breathing through their skin. All students rubbed their skin, clearly not quite processing how that could possibly work. While talking about how they move and how fabulous their muscles are, students got a chance to flex their biceps, as activity about muscle function and they mimicked the stretching and pulling motion of the worm. Can you imagine 23 wiggling children on a carpet?

When it came time to get down and dirty, the worms did not disappoint and samples on moist paper towels were oozing with worms of all sizes. Even cocoons were plentiful and easy to spot, to the utter delight of all children.

However, what took the prize and made this class indelible in student and teachers mind was that we got to follow the path of a “casting” from within the worm to outside. Worms are somewhat translucent and one can make out the dark spots in the tail section where the castings (technical term for worm poop) are making their way through the length of the worm. In laymen’s terms….we got to see a worm poop, and that was the highlight of the day, all kids clustered around that one poor shy worm to carefully inspect that freshly produced “casting”.

It was great fun and very heartwarming as students came to hug and thank us for teaching them.

Water, Water, Water! New Rochelle Students Learn About Water

Meet the two New Rochelle 7th graders from Ms McCue class that wrote beautiful essays about water. In We Future Cycle presentation students learned where their faucet water comes from, what it takes to clean and get it to that very convenient kitchen faucet.

Current events such as the lead water crisis in Flint MI was discussed and very slowly it dawned on students just what it  all takes to keep civilization going. Just visualizing the mere construction concept of getting the water from the Catskill/Delaware Watershed down to us, to the water treatment plant, onward in huge pipes to underneath our houses to be then transported all within the walls to the individual faucet.

Some students actually turned around to the classroom faucet, with clearly a brand new appreciation for what they had long considered completely normal.

Students learned about average water usages in the US versus other countries and we talked in detail about the marketing scam of bottled water.

Rafael, winner of period 2 wrote a very detailed report. It was clear that he paid attention every second of the presentation. And in addition, there was extensive research that he added. He understood that water is not free and is a resource that we soon will be fighting about.

Leila was the winner of period 5 and she concentrated her report on the bottled water scam and on the resulting garbage problem. She clearly laid out steps of what every one can do to help this problem.

Both students won a certificate, extra credit and an envelope for their work and it was well deserved!

 

 

New Rochelle High School Offers Week-Long Environmental Program about Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Learning about “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” was eye opening for many High School students. They sat openly staring at videos of garbage floating down rivers ending in a soup of submerged plastic filmed underwater by a diver. They averted their eyes when confronted with the slow death of a sea bird whose stomach was full of plastic. They cringed seeing pictures of completely garbage covered beaches in the Maldives.

Anna Giordano, Executive Director of We Future Cycle was invited by the New Rochelle High School Principal to do 7 days of environmental presentation, open to all teachers, who could just sign up their class for one of the 56 available slots. And they did. Not just science teachers, but teachers of all genres saw the need for their students to learn about this enormous environmental problem.

Students learned that the source of the garbage in the ocean is coming from city street littering, they learned how rain water sewers at the side of the road are connected to the next water way without any filtering system in place. Any bottle, cigarette butt, chip bag or plastic bag that makes it past the grade at street level is going directly into the next creek, river, lake or ocean.

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Mr Trash “eating” Baltimore street garbage that made it into the harbor via the rainwater sewers

Students learned about how ordinary people rose up to find a solution to a problem that thousands have looked at and just walked by. The Baltimore Mr Trash, for example. an ingenious device that catches floating debris as it comes from the Joans Falls river before it goes any further into the harbor, and ultimately into the ocean. It shows that one person with the will to find a solution to a problem can make a serious difference and Mr Trash is now a solution that other communities can copy.

Seabin_Project_V5_hybrid_in_action_380x272-295x220Another solution students learned about was the Sea Bin Project.  A floating trash can  that uses a pump to create suction that pulls surface water (and the debris floating on it) into the bin, effectively filtering out debris as small as 2 mm. The inventors of this fabulous device just received a prestigious European Award . 

When asked what these New Rochelle Students can do to be the solution, one student suggested to organize local clean ups and the idea had immediate takers and the teacher enthusiastically took up management of that project.

We Future Cycle is proud to inspire New Rochelle High School students to strife to be the solution.

New Rochelle Trinity 2nd Grader Study Biodegradable and Photodegradable Materials In Our Environment

Celebrating Earthday is no small matter in New Rochelle Trinity Elementary School. Assistant Principal Michael Hildebrand scheduled presenters from We Future Cycle for all Kindergarten through 3rd grades and the school was positively vibrating with good energy.

In class by class presentations, second graders learned concepts of what materials can bio-degrade and what that means in terms of this material entering our environment. They learned about decomposition, seed germination and a touch of the chemical processes behind that.

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Exploring if water changes the structure of plastic

Students had the opportunity to be hands-on scientists and explored how different materials interacted with water. quite messy in fact, but also eye opening  to learn and  experience that plastics are not changed by water, other than broken into smaller plastic pieces over time, until they are small enough to enter the food chain.

Watching a heart wrenching short movie about how wild life is affected by plastic in our environment started a spirited discussion on what each and every one of them can do to solve this problem.  Students decided to become vocal to educate other about the problem. Check out these fabulous posters as the result. These are mini-environmentalists on their way to become agents of change. Way to go!

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