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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New Rochelle Isaac Young’s Green Team in motion

New Rochelle School District is running the We Future Cycle recycling program for over 6 years now, working its way up the grades. First all the elementary schools then the middle schools and lastly the highschool 2 years ago. Together, 11.500 students are sorting their waste every single day. In the lunchroom and in their classrooms.

Isaac E Young MS has a vibrant Green Team and under the leadership of their Green Team coordinator as well as the head custodian William Coleman, a well oiled recycling machine was created.

20190125_143655Twice per week, teachers put out in the hallway their blue and green recycling bins with carefully sorted materials. Green Team students grab large rolling toters and go from classroom to classroom to collect the materials for recycling.

It creates ownership of the process for the building, the custodial staff appreciates the help and is sponsoring a pizza party for green team members on a regular basis and the kids feel empowered to be part of the solution. A win-win all around. We Future Cycle is proud to be part of this process.

White Plains Rochambeau Teacher ditches the straw

We Future Cycle is in the process of bringing  its lunchroom recycling program to Rochambeau, White Plains Alternative Highschool Campus. Recently we presented the program to the staff in the media center and the librarian shared with us just how easy it is to make the switch away from single use straws. She showed off her reusable cup with her metal straw.

Seeing a video about a plastic straw being removed from the nose of a loggerhead turtle was setting her into motion to research reusable straws and with just a few clicks on the internet found just how affordable they are and how easy they are to clean and to transport in one’s purse.

Being environmentally responsible is not rocket science, it just takes a tiny little bit of planning. We all make sure we have our wallet and our phone with us at all times, it is no stretch to include our reusable straw in its tiny carrier and our reusable bags that fold into a tiny ball. 71pehv-prpl._sl1500_

Yes, we can do this. And this teacher shows just how easy it is.

New Rochelle Barnard embracing Zero Waste

We Future Cycle was honored to be invited to the Barnard PTA meeting, kicking off the effort of this years Co-President Bryan Grossbauer to embrace Zero Waste at all school related events. Parents had heard from their little troopers about the recycling in the lunchroom but were quite astonished to learn just HOW good their kids were in terms of source separation. Barnard has consistently less that 1 pound of trash at the end of lunch.

The presentation walked through the steps of the program, shared the impressive reduction numbers of consistently in the high 90% and educated parents to where the garbage goes and its unbelievable cost to the tax payer.

However, we can not recycle our way to Zero Waste. Reduction and elimination of non-recyclable materials are the only ways to get closer towards Zero Waste.

Holding up a juice pouch, I asked parents how they liked them and a lively discussion about different brands started. There was a shocked silence, when I shared just how much I hated them. Someone contributed that they are just so convenient to put into their kids lunchbox. I began explaining that juice pouches offer no visual control of the product inside, students have a hard time putting the straw in and most get messy while doing it, leaving them with sticky fingers to be conveniently wiped on their pants.

But the worst about juice pouches is that they are non-recyclable. They end up in the trash, being trucked to the incinerated to be burnt there, with the ash subsequently being trucked to PA to be landfilled.  Westchester County sends 2500 tons of garbage to the incinerator every single day, at a cost of $200,000 per day.

Our idea of convenience is actually very very inconvenient. Not just in terms of the cost to society and the environment, but also for our kids. They just learned how bad garbage is and still …… are made to contribute to it….. everyday.

The best way to be zero waste is to send reusables to school with the students, reinforcing the environmental lessons they are learning.

And Barnard PTA has just pledge to do that.

New Rochelle Columbus lunch monitor adds artistic detail to recycling station

Meet Gloria, a wonderful lunch monitor at New Rochelle Columbus Elementary school. For nearly 3 hours, every day, she smiles at her students, opens endless milk cartons for them, helps with anything and all around eating lunch and then is the driving force to make sure that Columbus students sort their lunch waste according to the We Future Cycle system. She is passionate about saving the environment and found her calling to make sure things run smoothly in that very busy lunchroom.

The lunchroom features two recycling stations, neatly signed with large colorful posters, but Gloria added a wonderful personal and artistic touch to it, by taking the actual materials and creating a cute mobile to be hung right over the opening as yet another visual reminder for correct sorting.

Thank you Gloria for making Columbus’ station special.

New Rochelle Webster 3rd graders are STEAMing into recycling

New Rochelle Webster third grade students are STEAM-ing….., into recycling that is. In a recent science and technology block 3rd graders learned all about magnets, metals and their uses.

Ms Galano, Webster’s STEAM coordinator, wanted give this knowledge a tangible context and decided to invite Anna Giordano, New Rochelle’s Recycling Coordinator to the party.

Students learned how the science of physics is used all the time in the realm of recycling. Learning how concepts of gravity, friction, magnetism and resistance are bedrock of how modern material recovery facilities (MRF) sort the different recyclables was quite eye opening for them. Magnets are used to attract ferrous materials out of the recycling stream and anti current is repulsing aluminum to be sorted. Sheer genius.

20181101_141132Currently we are working on mass, volume and weight. And there is no better activity to explore that relationship than weighing lunch waste. Students are standing in front of their neatly sorted two bags of commingled, two bags of food waste, one bag of trays, one bucket of liquids and one bag of soft plastic trash. They make predictions on what might be the heaviest based on volume and then they get down and dirty and weigh each bag, standing on the scale. Isolating the weight of the bag without the child attached brought home that math is for the usage in life, and not just a tedious thing to learn.

Students worked extensively with the balance scale, learning the concept of grams as scientific units. They weighed common packaging material, such as a plastic bottle, a milk carton and some aluminum foil and were quite surprised to realize that just a little bit of liquid left in a container makes a whole lot of difference in the weight of the item.

Capping off the lesson with an explanation on how sorting will reduce their waste to just a single small fluffy bag whereas the other bags were going to composting or recycling, reiterated the basic concept of their daily lunchroom activity.

Webster’s 3rd graders are STEAMing……. into recycling and are lovin’ it.

 

Rye Middle School Diverts 96% waste on first day of We Future Cycle Program

Rye Middle School joined all of the Rye Elementary Schools in implementing the We Future Cycle recycling-composting program.  The launch was a huge success as all of the incoming 6th graders and most of their 7th grade school mates have done the program in their elementary school, they easily fell back into the routine of quickly sorting their waste. And 8th grade matched their stride with great enthusiasm.

Rye MS usually generated 140 lbs of waste from about 1000 students, in an impressive pile of 12 bags, all carried out one by one by the custodial staff, leaving behind a trail of dripping milk.

But no more, the We Future Cycle program separates liquids from packaging, and food from packaging. Easy quick movements to empty and sort.  And the results are always the same. A stunning 96% diversion rate into recycling and composting. Only 6 lbs or 4% of the 140 lbs was non-recyclable and will have to be transported for incineration by Westchester County.  That of course also means that 96% of the material is not adding to our air pollution, and we will retain the resources by recycling and composting them. Truly a win win on all sides.

And the numbers are adding up. A daily 136 lbs  reduction in waste over the course of a school week is a 680 lbs reduction, and over the course of a school year, a  whopping 12.25 TON reduction. That translated into volume and garbage bags would fill a school auditorium. 2200 bags of materials, diverted away from the garbage. Truly something to be proud of. And that is just one of the Rye schools!

The RMS community, led by principal Dr. Ann Edwards, were instrumental in achieving this result.

Rye Osborn Scare Fair diverts 90% of its waste

Rye School district is successfully implementing the We Future Cycle Recycling program in all aspects of school life. Each elementary school is diverting 95% of its waste into composting and recycling streams with students being enthusiastic partners in this program.

Osborn’s PTO just organized a fabulous “Scare Fair” and of course implemented the sorting program into that event. Despite the weather, there were wall to wall people enjoying the fun entertainment  and the wonderful choices for food.

Food was contained to the lunchroom and 3 recycling stations were set up and monitored to allow for waste diversion, the same way the students are doing it every day. Consistency is an important factor for long term learning.

We Future Cycle representatives were on hand to supervise the sorting stations and use that opportunity to share information with parents and other fair participants. Most parents had heard from their youngsters about the program  and were eager have their kids model what needed to be done. We shared data and background information with parents and other fair participants and most were quite astonished to learn just HOW much was diverted and the cost of garbage in general.

The Osborn Scare Fair diverted about 200 lbs of food waste into compost, about 8 large bags of commingled into recycling and only 2 bags were non recyclable items that made it into the trash.

Custodial staff estimates a 90-95% reduction of garbage through diversion. What most people do not realize. When we divert materials from the garbage, not ONLY do we ELIMINATE the emissions associated with the burning of that trash, we are also RETAINING the resources.

Can you image what it could mean if the entire country was to divert 90-95% of its waste into composting and recycling? Definitely something to strive for, and so easy to do. Just separate your waste! Done.

Ask these kids, they do it every day, without even thinking twice about it now.unnamed.png