We Future Cycle pushing for more sustainable options to feed students

We Future Cycle’s mission is to create a generation of students to care and to reduce garbage as much as possible. This is a 3 pronged approach. We work with the schools directly to set up logistics to allow for separation of materials so these can actually be recycled and composted.

We also present to the entire school community in order to create behavioral change across all players in the building. Changing on how we discard what we deem not to need anymore is a learning curve as it involves a change of heart. Only if people know what becomes of the material that is carelessly discarded, they start to become responsible for their actions, as small as where they place their empty coffee cup.

And lastly, we are working with food service to identify areas where we can replace unneccessary packaging with bulk.

We are very proud that our vocal opposition to EPS trays (Styrofoam) has now resulted in all of Westchester’s school districts to replace them with a compostable alternative.

We are also fighting against pre-wrapped Spork packages that contain a straw, napkin and spork, all wrapped in plastic. Our studies revealed that 70% of all students do not use the spork nor the napkin, thus discarding the materials unused.

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Unused spork package components after lunch

We are also working to replace all single serve condiment pouches with bulk squeeze bottles. Training students to only take what they intend to consume is part and parcel for this effort.

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Ketchup pouches taken but not consumed from one lunch period

We are working to make the school lunch world a greener place, one lunchroom at a time.

The bigger fight is to get washable flatware back into the lunchrooms.

 

Mt Vernon Columbus students compost and recycle now, 96% trash reduction

Every morning, Mt Vernon garbage trucks stop in front of each school to lug black trash bag over black trash bags into the hopper. Columbus Elementary School is usually sporting a bulging row of bags, sometimes already attacked by vermin and bags ripped over with unsightly trash spilling out.

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But no more!

Columbus just joined today the We Future Cycle recycling program and in class by class and auditorium setting presentations all 500 students, ranging from Pre-K to 8th grade learned about the problems around garbage.

They learned that by simply sorting their waste into organic, recyclable and non recyclable, most can be diverted out of the waste stream. And they took to it like fish to water. On day one, students diverted 181 lbs of material into recycling and composting, that would  otherwise have gone into the trash. A whopping reduction of 96%!

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So, instead of that row of trash bags, Columbus is only sporting this one single, very light bag of 7.5 lbs. THAT IS IT!

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Students said, that they had never thought past the garbage can, the stuff  just magically disappeared at some point. But now, they realize that their own actions, as simple as placing an empty milk carton into the recycling container can make a difference. Students learned that not just bottles and cans are recyclable, but also all glass, milk and juice cartons, all metals including Aluminum foil, and all hard packaging made of out of plastics, with the exception of Expanded Polystyrene (Styrofoam).

Students were surprised to hear that even their left over milk and food scraps are not trash, but actually a valuable resource.

The left over milk, poured down the drain, is actually food for the army of good bacteria at the waste water treatment center that cleans our water before it is being sent back into the Long Island Sound.

And their food scraps are going to a farm to compost into nutrient rich soil. Students had the opportunity to see, touch and smell actual compost and they all agreed with a smile that it smells like nature and wet forest.

Mount Vernon Columbus students are well on their way to making their school a much greener place. Way to go!

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, right here in New York

This is Davenport Park in New Rochelle NY, a gorgeous park right on the Long Island Sound, and its shores are littered with garbage. This debris is floating in with the tide and then stays behind, unsightly and a danger to marine life.

Whenever we are in any of the beach parks we collect the garbage left behind. Not just to avoid it being taken back into the water by the next tide, but also to make a point to fellow beach goer. Teaching through example is the only way to reach adults.

D_BoHyAWwAAhwzLHow does that garbage get there, you might ask? Well, not by people physically throwing it into the water. Instead, all of our streets are connected to the ocean by their rain water sewers. The ocean starts right at your home street. That is because anything and everything that is on the street and gets washed with the rain water into these sewers will absolutely, positively end up in the ocean. There is no filtering system between the street and the ocean.

And this is the result of our carelessness. If the reader thinks the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with its soup of plastics is too far to affect us, think again, it is right here!

Mount Vernon School District Adopts We Future Cycle Recycling and Composting Program

We Future Cycle is exceedingly proud to implement its signature recycling and composting program in all 14 Mount Vernon NY schools.

Michael Pelliccio, the Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds, learned about our program and immediately realized that Mount Vernon schools were ready to participate in this.

With his guidance and support, We Future Cycle, was able to remove all Styrofoam products from the cafeterias, replacing them with a compostable alternative.

This means 8500 daily Styrofoam trays have been removed from the Westchester waste stream.

We Future Cycle is now working to start the program in each school, reducing its garbage by 95% and creating a generation of Mt Vernon students that care.

 

Mount Vernon Hamilton School reduces garbage by 94%

Mount Vernon School District recently joined the We Future Cycle program and the trail blazing school was Hamilton Elementary School and under the leadership of Ms Wesolowski, over 500 Hamilton students from K to 6th grade learned all about garbage.

In class by class presentations, students learned that over 90% of their lunch waste is actually either recyclable or compostable, if it was just sorted out.

That alone did not get a lot of reactions from those little guys. It is truly too unwieldy of a concept. But what got their attention big time was when we shared that we can even recycle their left over sandwich.

We usually make a pause to give them a chance to digest that thought.

And then we show them what compost looks like. It is first greeted with some frowns, but upon smelling it, they all proclaim that it smells just like nature. And they are all on board when asked to decide what was better for the world, burning their left over sandwich or making soil out of it.

Students learned about the problems around garbage and that, when we talk about “throwing something away”,  there is no “away” on this earth,  Big eyes opened when students saw pictures of a landfill, but even bigger eyes when they learned that Westchester County brings its 2500 tons of daily (!) garbage to the incinerator in Peekskill to burn it, creating smoke and pollution.

Most students knew already that bottles and cans were recyclable, but were astonished to find out that all milk cartons, juice boxes, aluminum foil and other hard plastics were also recyclable.

Being in a lunchroom, teaching every single student how to sort properly is quite an experience. But it is so rewarding to see the incredible improvement already on day 2.

Hamilton reduced its garbage from 10 bags of trash weighing 106 lbs down to a mere 6.5 lbs, a 94% reduction.

The very next day, a student shared with me that her mother noticed the drastic reduction of garbage bags out at the curb. Great news!

Hamilton Elementary school is now in the process of creating a green team,  empowering students to become agents of green change.