New Rochelle Columbus Elementary School has been a front runner in environmental consciousness. This school joined the We Future Cycle recycling program during the early stages and Assistant Principal Shelly Owens has been a steadfast supporter.
Columbus’s lunchroom is teeming with kids during lunch, a well orchestrated bee hive of age matched students. 5th grade with K, 4th with 1st ……all to ensure an oiled machine of a student buddy system for peer help.
Until recently, Columbus was rather low tech when it came to the recycling station. But no more. Since September 2018, all New Rochelle schools are sporting a gleaming stainless steel recycling table with large signage. And students and staff are loving the new look.
Columbus school treasures its Green Team students that are up and ready to help their fellow classmates at the stations. Donned with reusable gloves they are hard at work to make sure that each material is going into the right bin. And the work is paying off.
Waste Audits consistently show a diversion rate into recycling or composting of 95%.
Can you imagine what our world could look like if EVERY SCHOOL diverted 95% of its waste. Not only would we reduce 95% of our trash, we would also retain 95% of our resources. Food waste makes nutrient rich soil that could replace chemical fertilizer. And recycling our papers, metals and plastics reduces the energy and water consumption during production by over 90%. These numbers are staggering.
White Plains Church St students participated in large numbers in a Green Writing Contest. This contest is sponsored by the late Nina Chin’s Family.
Nina Chin was a life long educator who believed that students become better learners and readers through writing and every year she sponsored from her own money a writing contest for her students. Her family is keeping up this lovely tradition in her name and this year White Plains Church St Elementary School was the first White Plains school to be chosen for this prestigious grant.
Over 60 students rose to the challenge and wrote heart warming essays to the topic “How can I make a difference”. The judges had a hard time choosing the top 10 entries.
When the day of the celebration came, the auditorium was filled with excited 3rd, 4th and 5th graders, all anxiously awaiting if their essay made it. Each time Principal Myra Castillo called out a name, loud applause ripped through the room. It was very energizing.
Each winner came up to receive a certificate and an envelope (and of course a hug!) and were all smiles for the picture.
It was a wonderful experience and students learned that it pays to be a writer.
White Plains MAS students are old hands at sorting their lunchroom and classroom waste. White Plains School district joined the We Future Cycle recycling program 4 years ago and now most of their elementary school population has never experienced anything else but stepping up to the recycling station and carefully separating their food waste from the recyclable and non-recyclable packaging material. White Plains schools are diverting 1850 lbs every day into recycling and composting streams. A 97% reduction of garbage through diversion.
Even the littlest ones are now really good at it. They cannot peer over the top of the bin yet, but -boy- do they know which bin is the right one for which material.
Every September and October, We Future Cycle hands-on trains K students, as well as refreshes the older grades on why we are sorting our waste. Keeping the environmental energy up is key for a vibrant and functioning lunchroom recycling system. Your hands can function much better when your heart is guiding them.
Recently, 2nd graders learned about what is bio degradable and what is not. Learning about how organic and inorganic materials interact with environmental factors such as rain and light is crucial to understanding the problems of the longevity of inorganic packaging material in our environment.
Through a scientific experiment students could learn first hand how organic and inorganic materials differ in their reaction to water. It was a messy affair, having 23 students dipping materials into water and rubbing it between their fingers to simulate environmentally induced friction, but they got it! Inorganic material as litter in our environment is a huge problem.
When asked what students could do to address the litter problem, great ideas came bubbling up. Picking up litter, doing trash treasure hunts, showing friends how to be better, bringing snacks in reusable containers to the park….. These students were fired up to save this world. Seriously way to go!
New Rochelle Trinity Elementary School is entering its 5th year running the We Future Cycle recycling program and students are getting trained on how to sort their lunch waste into compost, recyclables and trash.
Like every year, We Future Cycle presenters swoop upon the school and go from classroom to classroom to playfully introduce the students to the concept of recycling and to the problems attached to garbage. All students start out considering anything empty as garbage. Upon asking if they thought I brought them recycling, they clearly were reconsidering their position and some raised their hands. And they were quite astonished to learn that I just brought them packaging material, and they decided if that became garbage or recycling. It was fascinating to watch how something shifted inside them. THEY decided on something as important as putting something in recycling.
The We Future Cycle Recycling program teaches children to separate recyclable material from food and non recyclable material, and this reduces garbage by a whopping 97%. Trinity is consistently at below 6 lbs of trash from the entire lunch of nearly 1000 students.
Students learned that packaging is similar to Lego. If is put into the correct bin, it can be taken apart again and the same material blocks can be used to build something new. Students totally get that concept!
Learning that left over food can be recycled too was a bit of a stretch for them, but when I showed them what compost looked like and let them smell it, they all agreed that it is much better to make good soil than burn our banana peel.
White Plains Church St elementary school was chosen this year as the proud recipient of the coveted Nina Chin Green Writing Grant. Students of grade 3 through grade 5 were invited to voluntarily write an essay on how they personally can make a difference in this world.
Nina Chin was a lifelong educator and she believed that writing is the key to being a better reader and a better person. Every year she sponsored from her own money a writing contest among her students. Upon her passing, her children decided to carry on this lovely tradition and have sponsored one school in Westchester every year.
Over 50 students rose to the challenge and Myra Castillo, Principal, is holding proudly the stacks of essays from her students.
These essays are right now on the desk of two retired teachers that are “judging” them. Ten students will be proud winners of a nice envelope for their work. We cannot wait until the celebration, that is soon to come. Watch this space!
This is the gym of the New Rochelle Davis Elementary school. Beautifully decorated thanks to the tireless PTA. The entire school was buzzing with the excitement of the International Dinner. Hallways walls were floor to ceiling decorated with the artwork of students depicting traditional things of their homes.
Tables weighed down with delicious foods of all corners of this earth lined the perimeter of the gym and in the middle of this all was one recycling station. Not tons of trash cans as it is often the case for these events.
Davis Elementary school under the leadership of Anthony Brambola and Laurie Marinaro have fully embraced going green and are actively supporting bringing recycling to all school events.
And parents had the chance to sort their waste just like their kids do every day. It was very charming seeing a Kindergarten student pulling mom behind her to explain carefully what item goes in what bin. And then she declared with a smile that mom now saved the world!
Yes, every one can save the world, one every day activity at a time.
Parents needed a bit of encouragement to actually look at the signage, which clearly outlined where recyclables, compostables and trash needed to be placed. But of course, once they got it, they were enthusiastic about it.
Saving the world is really about education and that small changes of every day behavior makes a huge difference. This event would have generated a whopping 20 bags of trash if we had not sorted it. Instead through sorting we had 4 bags of commingled, 3 bags of foodwaste to be composted and only one bag of trash (most of which were bunched up plastic table clothes…..mmmmh, lets switch to fabric table cloths for next year!)
Davis Elementary School is a shining example of how a whole community can be educated to become green..
Implementing a Recycling Program in a building with 3500 students is a daunting experience. It is a mini city. How does one get these many people to change their wicked ways?
We Future Cycle has done just that this school year and now 3500 students and hundreds of teachers and other adult staff are fully trained to separate their packaging from food waste so each can go into recycling or composting. Garbage was reduced from 100 bags every day, to about 2. All the rest of the material is sorted into recyclable packaging and compostable organics.
All 4 lunchrooms are successfully participating and all classrooms are sporting paper, commingled and trash receptacles, reducing garbage even further.
The last frontier were the outside areas and We Future Cycle and the high school grounds staff are tackling this problem now. Green recycling bins displaying colorful informational stickers as well as an educational board explaining the stunning economics of recycling are popping up next to the outdoor garbage cans.
And today, we took a peek to get the answer to the question. Do high school students transfer learned behavior to other life situations when offered the easy logistics. And the answer was a very satisfying. YES!
Check out this wonderfully sorted content of recycling bin. I promise, I did not mitigate before taking the picture!