Research: Longer Lunch Periods Mean Healthier Eating and Less Waste

According to a new study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, students with 20 minutes or fewer to eat at lunchtime rarely finish their meal and make unhealthier food choices.

While most elementary school children have about 30 minute lunch periods in the U.S., some spend much of their lunch period standing in line waiting to get their lunch.  We often see students come to the source separation station to recycle and compost leftovers with only a few bites of their lunch consumed.  When we ask why they didn’t eat more sometimes they say they didn’t like the food; however just as frequently they will say “I didn’t have time to eat everything.”

[Read the full article here]

This response confuses school administrators, as it would seem that 30 minutes is sufficient for a child to each lunch.  However, we have observed that students spend a lot of their lunch period talking, as it is often the first opportunity during the school day that they can relax and talk with their friends.  Socializing often takes priority to eating!

The research – and We Future Cycle – offer recommendations about how to reduce lunchroom waste and to encourage healthier eating.  Designing lunchrooms and lunch schedules to reduce wait times on lunch lines, and to offer as extensive lunch periods as possible, are constructive ideas.  While recycling and composting is great, the best way to reduce waste is to not create it!

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New Rochelle’s Elementary Schools Recycle 2,000 lbs of Textiles In 3 Months.

New Rochelle’s Webster and Columbus Elementary Schools are extending their sustainability efforts beyond their successful lunchrooms. We Future Cycle introduced Textile Recycling through Spin Green as a fabulous fundraiser and both school principals eagerly embraced the initiative.

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According to the EPA, Americans discard 13.1 million tons of textiles per year and there is only a 15% recycling rate. Many people give nice things as hand-me-downs away, but what to do with the stained T-shirt, the holed toddler jeans or –gasp– the underwear with the rip……?  Easy…recycle them in our Spin Green Textile Recycling Bin.

unnamed (7)We parents know how fast children grow and what clothes look like after a few months on an active child, but instead of discarding them into the trash, consider supporting the schools by donating them into their recycling bins. Any dirty sock, ripped sheet, old stuffed animal can go, anything that is clothy. Even shoes, sleeping bags, old blankets.

Once donated the textiles go one of these routes.

  1. The re-use avenue where usable clothes are sorted out and sold through second hand clothing stores or thrift shops.
  2.  The recycle avenue where the clothes are sorted according to material and then shredded down for its fiber to be used as rags or as stuffing for car seats and other applications.

goodwill_12smDiscarded textiles come with a huge price tag to society. They account for 4.9% of the municipal waste.

For Westchester, with its 2,000 tons/day garbage about 100 tons are discarded textiles EVERY DAY. At around $80 per ton tipping fee (which is just the cost to dump the load onto the incinerator floor, no transportation or labor cost are included yet, and of course no secondary cost such as road repair or environmental consideration), tax payers are footing an $8000.00 bill every day to make a resource -literally- disappear into thin air.

To learn more about the footprint of textiles here is a very interesting article.

The textile industry, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, is the 5th largest contributor to CO2 emissions in the United States, after primary metals, nonmetallic mineral products, petroleum and chemicals.

The textile industry is huge, and it is a huge producer of greenhouse gasses.  Today’s textile industry is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gasses (GHG’s) on Earth, due to its huge size. In 2008,  annual global textile production was estimated at  60 billion kilograms (KG) of fabric.  The estimated energy and water needed to produce that amount of fabric boggles the mind:

  • 1,074 billion kWh of electricity  or 132 million metric tons of coal and
  • between 6 – 9 trillion liters of water

Thanks to Melissa Passarelli and Sonia Nunez, students of Columbus and Webster are learning about the importance of recycling textiles.

Senator Latimer supports We Future Cycle Program implementation throughout NY

We Future Cycle is honored to have its lunchroom recycling program endorsed by Senator George Latimer. He took time from his busy schedule to visit a We Future Cycle Recycling implementation at BMP Ridge Street School in Rye Brook, NY, and he has also met with our team to discuss grant opportunities.

Thank you Senator Latimer for your public support.

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Update: Carton Recycling Integration Finally Planned for February 2016 in Westchester County

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Update:

Louis Vitrone just shared that the upgrade equipment is being purchased and a February 2016 start date is being envisioned. That is great news for  Westchester, as it will take an additional 1% of resources out of the waste stream and turn it into revenue for the County.

Original article from 2014:

Milk cartons and juice boxes are a common sight in schools, and so far they are being trashed in Westchester County. In New York City, they are part of the Commingled recycling stream.

We have worked closely with Louis Vitrone, Deputy Commissioner  and Marianne Patronella, Director for Resource Management from Westchester County Environmental Service to bring carton recycling to Westchester. Just in November another meeting between the County and the Carton Council took place to find ways to make it work.

Part of the problem is that if a material is added to a recycling stream, it can really only be recycled if it is sorted. This sorting is done by a complicated sorting system which includes among other optical scanners to identify materials and then sort it via air stream into the correct container. The optical scanner itself is available and manageable in cost, but because Westchester’s Material Recovery Facility was one of the first built, its building doesn’t lend itself to easy equipment changes and the upgrading of the system is complicated and needs proper planning.  Yesterday’s meeting was a giant step in the right direction.

Schools that are using commercial carters such as Suburban Carting can already recycle their milk cartons as it is brought to a different facility that can sort out milk cartons.

Cartons are about 1% of Westchester’s waste stream and are a very valuable resource.

Here is a little educational youtube clip how easy it can be.