New Rochelle Webster 1st Graders Are Digging Worms!

Picture3We Future Cycle has been hired by the New Rochelle School District to bring sustainability education to the students. Our favorite activity is to do a Worm composting workshop with elementary students. Recently all Webster 1st graders got to meet their new friends, the Eisenia Fetida worms.

Students learned how important worms are for our environment, they cringed a bit when told how worms eat all kinds of stuff that falls on the ground and they openly gasped when learning just HOW much worms can eat on a daily basis and that the brown stuff they saw were actually worm castings (the correct word for worm poop 🙂

Making connections between muscle movements and its affect on how something can propel itself forward made them laugh, but all of them continued to flex their muscles to try it out.

All students got down and dirty, armed with a magnifying glass to examine the sample of worms they received on a moistened paper towel in front of them. They observed size differences, looked for coloring differences to identify what is the mouth and what is the anus of the worm, checked out the movements and searched for baby worms. Loud cheers followed by droves of kids swarming to the neighboring table when news came that a cocoon was found.

All in all, the basic information that all life matters and that worms have important jobs to do by taking our waste and turning it into something fantastic will stick with these young learners. That is the Webster Way.

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Who Are The Best Environmental Advocates? Students!

When we launch the We Future Cycle program at schools, we work with administrators, custodians, aides, and food service to get the mechanics of the program implemented and humming.  However, ultimately the goal is to give program ownership to the students.  They are the ones who must learn to separate their lunch leftovers into the appropriate bins, and they are the ones who bring the recycling message home to their families and extended communities.

Fortunately, this is not hard to do!  Students absolutely love sorting their lunch leftovers…it’s fun!  As well, they thoroughly understand that their actions have a direct benefit on the environment, and they know that what they do makes a difference.

This said, even enthusiastic students need to know that their principals, school lunch aides, and parents support the program to foster sustained compliance, and students also need a refresher from time to time about how the lunchroom sorting works.  Fortunately at the BMP Ridge Street School in the Blind Brook District, a 5th grader took it upon himself to spearhead that refresher!

Click here to watch a clip from the student presentation! https://www.dropbox.com/s/h94yg0f3mttkj5j/RSS%20Recycling%20Pres.m4v?dl=0

Jackson Welde, 5th grade student, noticed that his peers were becoming a bit sloppy in the lunchroom, so he asked his principal if he could create a presentation to show at the monthly school-wide student assembly.  (Click on the image to view a segment of the presentation.) The principal enthusiastically said “Yes!” and within a couple months, this presentation happened.  The K-5 students were attentive listeners, and they learned compelling facts about plastic and paper waste as well as about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  The presentation reminded students that properly sorting their leftovers in the lunchroom has ramifications to the health of their own environment, as well as to the environment around the world.

We Future Cycle encourages students to lead the environmental initiatives in their schools by making presentations such as these, as well as through Green Writing Contests, environmental education, and many other projects.  Giving students ownership of environmental programs promotes the values and responsibility necessary to instill a lifetime of environmental stewardship.

New Rochelle School District Saves $100K+ Thanks to Recycling Program

During the recent budget presentations the Director of Facilities for the New Rochelle School District presented cost savings of more than $100K through implementation of the We Future Cycle Recycling Program.

(Click on the image or on this link to view the video).

These cost savings are possible through reduction in waste generation of 97% in all elementary and middle schools. 8,000 students are now sorting their waste and thus sending food waste to be composted and packaging to be recycled rather then all of it going to trash as it had been the case before We Future Cycle got involved. It was not a road without its bumps but seeing this kind of result makes the effort well worth it.

School Trash pre-sort (lbs) Trash post-sort (lbs) % diverted
Davis 208 10.0 95%
ALMS 281 14.0 95%
IEYMS 348 7.5 98%
Ward 283 7.5 97%
Trinity 266 4.5 98%
Webster 163 4.5 97%
Jefferson 254 3.0 99%
Columbus 400 8.0 98%
Barnard 84 <1.0 99%

Before the WFC program, New Rochelle School District had its own garbage trucks with two dedicated Buildings and Grounds staff members doing nothing but driving from school to school to school to pick up garbage. Each school, depending on size put out 13 – 30 bags of garbage from lunch alone and the same amount again for night clean. That added up to 211 bags of garbage per day from lunch alone, without the High school and its 80 bags per lunch.

Now, most schools are looking at one fluffy bag of trash weighing between 3 and 7 pounds instead of the previous 400 lbs.

New Rochelle School District is now able to share services with the City of New Rochelle who has taken over the garbage and recycling pick up for the district at no cost, other than buying the special split back truck.  The $100K cost savings is so far only the reduction in truck operation, garbage tipping fee, it does not include the additional savings of allocating the man power to other positions, the reduction of plastic bag purchasing and the increase of income generating recyclables to the Westchester County.

 

We Future Cycle White Plains and New Rochelle Schools To Receive Westchester County Earth Day Award

We Future Cycle is exceedingly proud that the White Plains and New Rochelle Schools are honored at the upcoming Westchester County Earth Day for their participation in the We Future Cycle Recycling Program that diverts 95% of their waste into recycling and composting streams.

Ridgeway Elementary School Principal Tashia Brown will be receiving the award in the name of the White Plains School District and New Rochelle Jefferson Assistant Principal LeAnn Bruno will be receiving it for the New Rochelle School District.

Both are well deserved, both are champion supporters of the We Future Cycle Sustainability Programs and have gone out of their way to personally support the efforts of their students.

Congratulations!

White Plains MAS Students Run Recycling Program With Gusto!

We Future Cycle is so proud of White Plains MAS students. The school adopted the WFC recycling program in February of 2017 and under the energetic leadership of Assistant Principal Rob Janowitz the school transformed the way it dealt with garbage in record time, catching the hearts and souls of the students. Empowering them to be the change agent and to run the program.

We Future Cycle presented to all students the detriments of garbage and how simple changes in behavior can make a huge difference. MAS students got it immediately.

“Sorting is easy and fun”

“I help every day with the younger grades and I love it”

Within a week this school was a well oiled sorting machine. Students signed up to supervise the lunchroom stations, teachers created the classroom job of Recycling Ranger and overall garbage dropped by 98% through sorting and diversion into recycling and composting streams.

This change even caught the attention of the White Plains Board of Education. Click on the image or link below to hear the BOE member and Superintendent gushing about how proud they are of their students. It is truly heartwarming.

New Rochelle Jefferson Students Win Cash Prizes In Green Writing Contest

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Applauding classmates

Under ear-splitting applause 14 New Rochelle Jefferson Students made their way up to the stage in the auditorium to receive their certificate and cash prize.

The Nina Chin Family proudly sponsors a Green Writing Contest every year. Nina Chin, a long time New Rochelle resident was a teacher and her goal was to make a students reach farther through writing, so she sponsored a green writing contest each year from her own money.

After her passing, her family decided to continue this wonderful tradition and chose Anna Giordano, Executive Director of We Future Cycle, to administer this grant.

Every year one New Rochelle school is chosen. This year it is Jefferson Elementary School, in the past Ward, Columbus, Trinity and Webster were proud recipients of the grant.

The topic was “How Can I Make a Difference?”

Students were tasked to reach within themselves to formulate ideas and foster personal engagement, going beyond writing what can be done in general, but more what each one is COMMITTED to do. Third, fourth and fifth grade students were invited to participate and 66 souls rose to the challenge and delivered stacks of heartwarming ideas and personal commitments.

One student had the brilliant idea to do a trash treasure hunt in a park, another decided to start a club with her friends to reach out to more people. One student admitted that before learning about trash through the We Future Cycle presenters he did not care where he threw his garbage. but now he makes sure to sort correctly and to make his family do the same. All writers had a clear understanding that there is no Planet B and that it takes all of us to be the solution. Fostering environmental understanding at this age is generational learning and will hopefully spread throughout the community for lasting positive change.

“Because when we take care of our Earth, we are all Winners”  strong words from a 4th grader!

Town of Greenburgh Eyeing To Operate Westchesters First Food Composting Site

Paul Feiner, long time Supervisor for the town of Greenburgh is an ardent supporter of green and sustainable practices. We Future Cycle is partnering with the Town of Greenburgh to operate the first food composting site in Westchester.

Currently the County of Westchester is spending close to a million dollars per week to burn its 2500 daily tons of garbage into the environment at the Peekskill incinerator. A look at the garbage composition reveals that nearly 50% of that is organic matter such as food waste.

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33% are paper products that could be recycled and another 16% are plastics, glass, metals and cartons that could also be recycled and generate income for the County, rather than being burnt into our air at great expense. Only 4% of our daily garbage is actual trash.

The weak link so far is what to do with the organic waste. Yard waste is already collected and most Westchester communities truck it out to a commercial yard waste composting facility in Rockland or Putnam County. At great expense I might add. Greenburgh alone spends  $ 1.25 million disposal fees just for leaf season. And that does not account for the actual trucking expenses, only the disposal cost.

So,what to do with the food waste?

We Future Cycle has brought their ground breaking recycling program now to many schools in the county, redirecting 95 to 97% of the lunchroom materials into recycling or composting streams and away from trash.

 

So far, the food waste is going to the Ulster County Composting Facility, quite a trek up I-87. They mix 3 parts leaves / wood chips with one part food waste and -voila- 3 months later, they have a salable product called potting soil that sells for $6 per cubic foot at Home Depot.

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final product ready to be bagged

And why bring a valuable ingredient for healthy soil to be used somewhere else?

So, the Town of Greenburgh is stepping up to the plate to bring the first food composting site to Westchester County, keeping valuable resources within the county, reducing trucking and disposal expenses, lowering costs so that more schools can participate in the program and generating black gold. A total win-win situation.

We Future Cycle is proud to be part of this.