As Sustainability Coordinator and Waste Management Consultant for schools, I am always counting and weighing garbage bags, mostly under the watchful eyes of head custodians that are highly skeptical of being asked to institute a “recycling program”. Sometimes with the help of the students, sometimes without.
The general notion in schools is that when there is a blue bin somewhere, then there is a recycling program. Upon being asked how much commingled they are actually pulling out of the building to be recycled, I am often met with a lengthy explanation on why the material is so contaminated that they have to discard it as trash.
The prevalence is still that ” It is all garbage to me” and ” I don’t have time to recycle”.
That is where We Future Cycle, a non profit organization specialized on large scale sustainability programs comes in.
The mere fact that I come in and count and weigh the garbage puts a value on garbage, which was not there before. Custodial staff usually does not think of the cost associated with garbage, but being told just how much their school generates creates already an awareness.
Schools being supported by We Future Cycle are usually audited before any recycling program component is implemented, and then after each component comes on line, and then periodically to make sure things are still on tracks.
We have seen dramatic reductions from 277 lbs from lunch alone down to 3.5 lbs and 187 lbs from night clean down to 21 lbs.
Showing reduction results from other schools with similar number of students is first met with high degree of skepticism, but once they see me standing on a scale, holding a bulging dripping back of garbage to weigh it, they know, that School Waste Audits show that change is very possible.