Back-to-School Tips for Packing Waste-Free Lunches

At We Future Cycle one of the biggest challenges we see with lunchroom waste is the plastic baggies kids bring from home.  We are able to compost and recycle 95% of lunchroom waste, and the remaining 5% is plastic bags and chip bags that go into the trash.

It’s easy to eliminate this waste, however, if lunches are packed in reusable plastic containers (i.e., Tupperware) or in one of the handy reusable wraps and containers shown in this video!  Teach your child to be responsible for waste by packing his or her lunch in a reusable container.  Be the leader in changing wasteful lunch-packing habits!

“Just Eat It!” Panel Discussion Highlights Food Waste Solutions

On May 19, The Ossining Documentary & Discussion Series hosted a screening of the documentary “Just Eat It!,” followed by a panel discussion featuring Anna Giordano, Executive Director of We Future Cycle, Sarah Womer, Founder & Executive Director of Zero-to-Go and Alison Jolicoeur, Director of Second Chance Foods.

Each panelist described the work they do to reduce food waste.  Those of you who follow this blog know that We Future Cycle implements school recycling and composting programs; Zero-to-Go are experts at making any event ‘waste-free’; and Second Chance Foods rescue food from farms, grocery stores, and restaurants which would otherwise be trashed and bring it to community service organizations to provide meals for people in need.

The panelists also discussed the opportunities and challenges with implementing a county-wide composting facility in Westchester to help reclaim food waste from both commercial and residential locations.  See the full panel discussion here:


Worms, Worms, Glorious Worms, White Plains Ridgeway Students LOVE their new friends

Recently White Plains Ridgeway 2nd grade students learned all about how important worms are for this world. They listened to a presentation about them, and got down and dirty to check them out up close and personal.

And now they are taking care of them and are writing about them. Check out what Maria and Saul have to say about them.

Worms Are Awesome!

By Saul Leon Huerta and Maria Clara Bornia

Worms Are Awesome! Worms are important for our environment because they eat food waste and then poop out rich soil. The worm poop is called castings.  Their poop has a lot of nutrients for the soil and is good for all the plants. This is called compost. They eat our food waste, which doesn’t only help them but helps Worms eat half their body weight every day! Worms have to stay under the soil and the leaves so they don’t dry up and die. They have to be moist. Our class is learning about worms and worm composting. We are trying to recycle and reuse stuff so it cannot go into the landfill. We set up a worm composting bin in our class. It is called vermiculture. Our worms eat our natural snack waste. We gave them banana peel, watermelon, and strawberry. We made a hypothesis to predict what food they would eat first. Most of us guessed watermelon. We observed for a week and discovered they ate more watermelon. Our hypothesis was correct! Next we will give them an apple core. We think they will love it!

Only so little left! Celebrating a 98% diversion into recycling

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADiverting 98% of school lunchroom waste into recycling is now normal at the Westchester Schools that are running the We Future Cycle recycling program. This is what came out of a school with over 1000 students every day. 32 bags of loosely filled, dripping with left over milk.

However once the students learn about the impact sorting can make, this school is down 98% of it original amount. Only that small black bag, weighing 4 lbs is what is actually trash.

The three bags of milk cartons are now going hand in hand with the plastics to the Westchester Material Recovery facility for recycling, and the green large toter contains all the food waste and all the trays to be composted.


New Rochelle Barnard Students Fundraising To Cut Down On Trash

DSCN2383Under the leadership of Deatra Bailey, 2nd grade teacher at Barnard, students are combining lessons of economics with being environmental. To raise money for reusable sandwich pouches as part of the ongoing effort to cut down on single serve packaging that ends up in the trash, Students are selling healthy snacks taking turns to be the cashier or accountant of the operation.

Barnard Elementary school has students from Pre-K to 2nd grade, but even the kindergarten students are now old hands at sorting their waste.

Barnard joined the We Future Cycle program in January and has been exemplary in continuously teaching environmental awareness. Recently the students learned how to become waste free at snack time. Each time they bring in a completely waste free snack, they are rewarded with a leaf, this leaf, complete with name goes onto a tree in the lobby of the school, to be admired by everyone.

DSCN2381Barnard is now sporting a veritable forest of trees.



White Plains Ridgeway’s 2nd graders welcome their “new friends”

Picture1Meet the new “friends” of Ridgeway’s Ms. Vendola’s second grade. Eager students learned all about the wonders of worm composting, or technically called Vermiculture.

We Future Cycle Executive Director Anna Giordano brought her composting friends to share with the students. Primed and prepared by Ms. Vendola, Students learned in a presentation about how worms eat, breathe, live and of course….poop. The worm casting is what makes vermiculture so desirable, talking about fertilizer on steroids!

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After learning about it, students got to check things out for themselves. On wet paper towels, in a darkened room, each student, armed and dangerous with a magnifying glass looked for baby worms and cocoons. They learned how worms can move and checked out the bristles on the underside (yes, worms have an underside) of the worm that helps them to move.  Picture3

And then we built their very own worm bin and some of Anna Giordano’s “friends” have a new home now at White Plains Ridgeway Elementary School. Students will do scientific observations as to what foods are preferred by the worms, how long it takes for an apple core to be consumed and how fast the worms multiply in a friendly environment. A fascinating, hands-on experience for the students.


White Plains School Milk Cartons Recycled At Material Recovery Facility

DSCN2827On April 23rd, just in time for Earth day, Westchester’s Material Recovery Facility added milk cartons to their list of recyclable materials. They are actually taking not only milk cartons which are called by the industry “gable tops” a paper product container with a PET lining, but also “aseptics” which is a paper container with an aluminum foil and PET liner.

A typical Westchester Elementary school is generating around 500 cartons per day. A mix of cable tops (milk cartons) and aseptics (like juice boxes).

We Future Cycle has been instrumental pushing for Westchester to join the surrounding counties accepting this material. The We Future Cycle recycling program includes sorting the milk cartons from day one. If the material was recycled depended how the school had their waste removal organized.

There are three systems of waste removal within Westchester school districts.

A: The district gets picked up by their municipality for free or for a fee

b: The district pays a commercial carter for waste removal

c: The district has their own employees pick up the waste and feed into their municipal system.

White Plains, New Rochelle and Mamaroneck are feeding into the Westchester MRF and are all We Future Cycle schools. They are excited to be able to finally have the cartons included with commingled.

White Plains has even made adjustments to their pick up schedule to accommodate for the increased recycling amounts as well as the drastically reduced trash.

Before implementing the We Future Cycle recycling program, White Plains DPW picked up trash every day, but now with the drastically reduced waste, and the increased amount of recycling, the schedule was adjusted to twice per week recycling pick up and a reduction down to only 2 or 3 times per week garbage pick up.

Commercial carters do not feed their materials into the Westchester County Material Recovery Facility across from Stew Leonard’s, they use the commercial single stream facilities in the area. The schools using commercial carters have been able to recycle their cartons from day one.