New Rochelle School Food Waste A Gold Mine, Not Garbage

It is a long known fact that organic waste can be turned into valuable methane, used for cooking, heating or propelling vehicles.

Westchester is working on a pilot project to create a small scale bio plant at Greenburgh Nature center to convert food and organic waste into compressed gas to be used to run DPW trucks. What a fabulous project.

Please take a moment to read the following article that shows that Brooklyn is so far ahead of Westchester.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/city-approves-project-turn-…

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NYC Passes Styrofoam Ban ! New Rochelle School District Please Follow that Lead!

Traysfrom2schools
New Rochelle Trays – 9 Days of Trays From Only 2 Schools

NY City Council passed yesterday the 1060A Bill, which bans certain Expanded PolyStyrene products from use by January 2015. These EPS products include single use food Styrofoam as in school trays and such. WHOHOOOO. This is a major victory of our children’s health versus the mighty Plastic Industry!

This ban is particularly interesting to us in New Rochelle because it sets the stage to follow it by moving away from disposables in our schools. New Rochelle’s schools are serving lunch to our kids on disposable Styrofoam trays. It creates a huge mountain of garbage, and the district allocates enormous funds to dispose of this garbage. Funds that could be used instead in the class room. It also teaches our kids that life around them is disposable and that is truly nothing we want to teach our children. Continue reading NYC Passes Styrofoam Ban ! New Rochelle School District Please Follow that Lead!

NYC, Miami and 27 other large School districts are ditching Styrofoam trays

I have shared with the Board the following article from The New York TimesUrban Schools Aim for Environmental Revolution, and then emailed them my comments below.

Dear Board,

I hope you all had a lovely and peaceful Thanksgiving break and I commend you for spending so much of your time on School issues.

Continue reading NYC, Miami and 27 other large School districts are ditching Styrofoam trays

NYC versus the mighty Plastic Industry, Styrofoam Banning Legislation in the making

Big things happened in NYC City Hall.

On Monday, Dec 2nd, a Council Meeting took place discussing the outright banning of Expanded Poly Styrene, more commonly known as Styrofoam. Here is a run down on what happened.

Polystyrene Ban Hearing Overview from Jennifer Prescott:

Deputy Mayor, Cas Halloway’s testimony was clear and substantial. He outlined the comprehensive research that proceeded the conclusion that it is in the City’s best interest to ban Polystyrene. He and Deputy Commissioner Ron Gonan repeatedly stated that over 27 US cities have already done so with no evidence of a downside. The City’s research concluded that there simply isn’t enough of a market for recycled Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and that EPS is not recyclable once it has been contaminated by food. Both assertions were supported by Sims Municipal Recycling general manager, Thomas Outerbridge. EPS manufacturer, DART, testified that they have purposed a working plan to separate the NYC EPS and cart it by rail to their 50 million dollar (yet to be built/retro-fit) Indianapolis-based Plastics Recycling facility, where it will be cleaned and recycled. DART’s plan supported (3) city council member’s opinion’s that EPS should be recycled. Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Diana Reyna, and Robert Jackson all feel that an outright ban will adversely affect small businesses in their districts, primarily small, take-out restaurants and bodegas. Councilman Robert Jackson and Councilwoman Diana Reyna have introduced a bill with Brooklyn to add plastic foam to the city’s curbside recycling program. DART, the leading manufacturer of EPS (and $120,000 contributor to the plastics lobby against the ban), testified to the recyclability of EPS and introduced a conspiracy theory suggesting that Ron Gonan has undermined any possibility of recycling the material with SIMS. SIMS GM, Thomas Outerbridge, debunked their assertion by confirming that all correspondence between SIMS and DART were uncorrupted by any outside parties – including the DOS. Councilman Lewis Fidler tore into DART’s arguments and assertions that it is cost effective and feasible to recycle EPS. The overall concern is that by declaring EPS “recyclable”, without a facility available to clean and handle the material, we are effectively prolonging a landfill destination for unknown years to come. In addition, even if EPS were to be found “recyclable”, NYC’s EPS is primarily food containers that end up in the home or restaurant garbage. Separating it out for recycling would require extra hauling lines for curbside pick-up, costing the City $70 million per year. As far at the D3 Green Schools Group testimony was concerned, I was heard very late in the proceedings on a panel that included Debby Lee Cohen (Cafeteria Culture). Lisa Maller drew up a comprehensive testimony that outlined our stance on the proposed City-wide Polystyrene ban (I believe that the testimony was posted to the D3 Green Schools Group list serve last week). I went off-script to add a few comments pertaining to the medical/health consequences (and the troubling lack of testimony regarding health) connected to EPS.

City Council members in attendance: Maria del Carmen Arroyo Peter F. Vallone, Jr. Lewis A. Fidler Diana Reyna Robert Jackson Albert Vann Letitia James Jessica S. Lappin

How New Rochelle District Tax Money is Thrown in the Garbage

http://www.flickr.com//photos/talkofthesound/sets/72157631752340964/show/

After realizing that 90% of the garbage generated in our schools is fully recyclable, I set out to identify just how much of our tax dollars are attached to that amount of garbage.

MountainTrashA quick look into the proposed budget for the upcoming school year revealed that the school district budgets

$120,000 for the mere dumping of garbage. (page 22/23)

Your New Rochelle Tax Dollars Can Be Saved By The Garbage Bag

MountainTrashIf you are like most parents, you blissfully kiss your kids good bye in the morning, wish them a good day in school and then concentrate on your own day ahead. Well that was me, it never occurred to me to think about what their lunchroom was like, nor did I ever, in a million years thought about the trash that was generated in that lunchroom.

I was yanked into reality when I did an Earth Day project with my kids, cleaning up the woods. Upon finding a large piece of gnarly looking Styrofoam, clearly in the woods for ages, I launched into an explanation how bad Styrofoam is for the environment. My son interrupted me by piping up that in the lunchroom they used disposable Styrofoam trays. I was shocked.

I went to the principal to get permission to survey the lunchroom and low and behold, every single day, the school with 1,064 kids generated a mountain of trash. 22 large garbage bags per lunch.

I did an in-depth survey and realized that 90% of that garbage are fully recyclable materials, if they were just sorted out.

Being a woman of action, I devised a recycling station and taught the kids to empty all of their drink and food containers and then sort them into the different recyclable categories, I found ways to recycle Styrofoam, zip lock bags, capri sun pouches and other previously deemed non recyclable materials. And – oh magic- once the recyclables were sorted out we had only 2 bags of garbage left, down from 22!

A 90% reduction. Whow.

Any good fairy tale would stop right here. I saved the world, complied with NY State recycling laws, reduced the cost associated with garbage by 90%, generated money to the county through the valuable recyclable materials and -best of all- created a generation of kids, that learned that their daily CAN make a lasting difference.

Most people don’t think about garbage in the context of cost. But rest assured garbage is BIG BUSINESS and very expensive. It costs around $100.00 per ton to dispose of garbage, that does not include the labor, fuel or vehicle cost, just the mere dumping cost. Whereas the communities can dump the recyclables for free, and the County makes its money by sorting, baling and selling these materials back to industry for big money. Plastic Pet1-2 for example sell for $2500,00 per ton.

So having the kids sort out their recyclables is a complete win win situation, no? We save money, we teach kids about sustainability and we save the environment on many different levels. However, change comes only with difficulties to the adults in this situation. Getting administration, custodians, parents and teachers on board is far more difficult then I would have ever thought.

However, brick by brick, the kids will pave the way towards a better, more sustainable way of dealing with School lunch garbage.

If you are interested in learning about how your school can implement this fabulous program, please contact Anna Giordano, at Schoollunchrecycling@gmail.com.

Elementary School Students Campaign for Reusable Lunchroom Trays

styrofoam trayIn Piney Branch Elementary Students Campaign for Reusable Lunchroom Trays, UtensilsThe Washington Post reported on a great example about how students across the country realize that the environment is worth more than perceived savings by purchasing disposables – and, they can do something about it.  “The students from Takoma Park, known as one of the D.C. region’s most socially conscious communities, have raised $9,000 from foundations and sympathetic residents to purchase a dishwasher, washable flatware and other supplies so they can banish Styrofoam from their school. But they have met unexpected resistance from a school system in which food-service operations rely on the convenience and disposability of plastic….”  Click here to read the full article.