Tag Archives: compost

Back-to-School Tips for Packing Waste-Free Lunches

At We Future Cycle one of the biggest challenges we see with lunchroom waste is the plastic baggies kids bring from home.  We are able to compost and recycle 95% of lunchroom waste, and the remaining 5% is plastic bags and chip bags that go into the trash.

It’s easy to eliminate this waste, however, if lunches are packed in reusable plastic containers (i.e., Tupperware) or in one of the handy reusable wraps and containers shown in this video!  Teach your child to be responsible for waste by packing his or her lunch in a reusable container.  Be the leader in changing wasteful lunch-packing habits!

“Just Eat It!” Panel Discussion Highlights Food Waste Solutions

On May 19, The Ossining Documentary & Discussion Series hosted a screening of the documentary “Just Eat It!,” followed by a panel discussion featuring Anna Giordano, Executive Director of We Future Cycle, Sarah Womer, Founder & Executive Director of Zero-to-Go and Alison Jolicoeur, Director of Second Chance Foods.

Each panelist described the work they do to reduce food waste.  Those of you who follow this blog know that We Future Cycle implements school recycling and composting programs; Zero-to-Go are experts at making any event ‘waste-free’; and Second Chance Foods rescue food from farms, grocery stores, and restaurants which would otherwise be trashed and bring it to community service organizations to provide meals for people in need.

The panelists also discussed the opportunities and challenges with implementing a county-wide composting facility in Westchester to help reclaim food waste from both commercial and residential locations.  See the full panel discussion here:

 

Only so little left! Celebrating a 98% diversion into recycling

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADiverting 98% of school lunchroom waste into recycling is now normal at the Westchester Schools that are running the We Future Cycle recycling program. This is what came out of a school with over 1000 students every day. 32 bags of loosely filled, dripping with left over milk.

However once the students learn about the impact sorting can make, this school is down 98% of it original amount. Only that small black bag, weighing 4 lbs is what is actually trash.

The three bags of milk cartons are now going hand in hand with the plastics to the Westchester Material Recovery facility for recycling, and the green large toter contains all the food waste and all the trays to be composted.

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New Rochelle Barnard Students Fundraising To Cut Down On Trash

DSCN2383Under the leadership of Deatra Bailey, 2nd grade teacher at Barnard, students are combining lessons of economics with being environmental. To raise money for reusable sandwich pouches as part of the ongoing effort to cut down on single serve packaging that ends up in the trash, Students are selling healthy snacks taking turns to be the cashier or accountant of the operation.

Barnard Elementary school has students from Pre-K to 2nd grade, but even the kindergarten students are now old hands at sorting their waste.

Barnard joined the We Future Cycle program in January and has been exemplary in continuously teaching environmental awareness. Recently the students learned how to become waste free at snack time. Each time they bring in a completely waste free snack, they are rewarded with a leaf, this leaf, complete with name goes onto a tree in the lobby of the school, to be admired by everyone.

DSCN2381Barnard is now sporting a veritable forest of trees.

 

 

White Plains Ridgeway’s 2nd graders welcome their “new friends”

Picture1Meet the new “friends” of Ridgeway’s Ms. Vendola’s second grade. Eager students learned all about the wonders of worm composting, or technically called Vermiculture.

We Future Cycle Executive Director Anna Giordano brought her composting friends to share with the students. Primed and prepared by Ms. Vendola, Students learned in a presentation about how worms eat, breathe, live and of course….poop. The worm casting is what makes vermiculture so desirable, talking about fertilizer on steroids!

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After learning about it, students got to check things out for themselves. On wet paper towels, in a darkened room, each student, armed and dangerous with a magnifying glass looked for baby worms and cocoons. They learned how worms can move and checked out the bristles on the underside (yes, worms have an underside) of the worm that helps them to move.  Picture3

And then we built their very own worm bin and some of Anna Giordano’s “friends” have a new home now at White Plains Ridgeway Elementary School. Students will do scientific observations as to what foods are preferred by the worms, how long it takes for an apple core to be consumed and how fast the worms multiply in a friendly environment. A fascinating, hands-on experience for the students.

 

White Plains Church St Elementary School Students Compost Healthy Snack Waste

3ba6684d-abfe-412a-923e-0d5c14d498b8Students from K through 2nd Grade are carefully walking the blue classroom compost pail to the school courtyard that houses a lovely learning garden, a greenhouse with the first projects budding and a nice compost tumbler.

Church St Elementary School adopted the We Future Cycle recycling program in October of 2015 and has decreased its lunchroom waste by a whopping 98%, sorting out all recyclable and compostable materials. In the classrooms the students are diligently sorting out all paper and commingled into the correct bins, leaving very little for the trash can.

Now, under the leadership of Principal Castillo and Assistant Principal Jackson, the school is solving another problem. Mid morning snack!

Students were presented with common snack packaging materials and asked if they thought it was healthy for them. They all knew that chips, cookies, caramelized popcorn and traditionally single served packaged snacks were not healthy for them. One child explained to me: ” Chips are not food, they are just snack”

We Future Cycle presenters went into all kindergarten through 2nd grade classes and helped students make a very important connection. We eat to stay healthy, the foods we eat should be healthy to keep our body healthy, and foods that come directly from the Earth are healthy and naturally without packaging material. Church St students realized that their choice of snack can help their body and their Earth to stay healthy.

Students that bring their snack in reusable containers and are waste free receive a paper leaf, write their name on it, and then paste it to the Waste Free Tree outside the cafeteria. Check out this leaf sprouting tree! DSCN2821

Healthy food waste will make Church St’s garden grow. Two green children from each class are carefully placing all apple cores and banana peels into the composter and over time get to see close up the wonders of decomposition. DSCN2817

 

New Rochelle Jefferson Elementary Students On-Site Composting To Feed The Garden

DSCN2386Jefferson Elementary School has partnered with the Manhattanville College to become even greener. Under leadership of Maia Starcevic and Aimee Ferguson, proud recipients of the exclusive Science Wipro Grant, and in cooperation with the Manhattanville College fabulous raised beds were built right at the front playground.

Students and parents were participating and learning about the concept of thematic raised beds and they came out beautiful.

And right next to it, is Jefferson’s new compost tumbler. Because Jefferson’s students are all about feeding the garden. All students are now seasoned waste sorters in the lunchroom and know that most packaging can be recycled, and all food and paper products can be composted.

Bringing Sustainability to the next level, students recently learned in class by class presentations led by We Future Cycle’s experienced trainers about healthy foods and making healthy choices. Fruits and veggies are really the best snack food and students are gobbling them up. Teachers are seeing more and more healthy snacks coming in and also foods  in reusable containers, rather than plastic baggies.  Gone are the chips for snack, and welcome Mr Apple! And it is that apple core, or banana peel that will go into Jefferson’s composter, making the circle of life suddenly touchable for the children.

eefe711b-95b4-4bef-b0c4-4493f7583b44Everyday at snack, the students will put all healthy snack waste into a little blue bucket instead of into the classroom trash bin. That blue bin is then carried into the courtyard and emptied into the composter. Students can see how decomposition takes place over time, and they realize that there is nothing yucky about composting. Each time they bring snack without creating garbage, they are rewarded with a leaf, that will then be proudly pasted to the “Jefferson feeds the Garden” Tree right outside Assistant Principal Ms Bruno’s office.

Jefferson students are making a difference, every day, and they are shaping their community by asking mom to give them healthy  snacks without creating any garbage.

 

 

 

New Rochelle Trinity’s Waste Free Tree Filling Up With Leaves

Check out how these Trinity Elementary Students are carefully pasting their waste free leaf to the tree. 6fa07f31-c764-4bb8-958a-bfc3109faacc

Liam Sparano (K, Ms Hawkins class) has received already 6 leaves ” I eat healthy snacks to get energy to grow big and strong like Superman”.

Trinity Elementary School students are proudly pasting paper leaves with their names to the Waste Free Tree that is taking up most of the wall in the front lobby. This Waste Free Tree symbolizes the change Trinity students are making in terms of snack packaging. Only students whose mid morning snack is completely waste free will earn a leaf and the opportunity to paste it to the tree. Students that are waste free and also super healthy will be able to earn a bonus leaf. And ….. this tree is sprouting leaves like crazy!

Jayden Henry has received 5 leaves. Jayden said, “I tell my Mommy I need a healthy snack every day”

Valeria Gutierrez has 4 leaves- She said, “I remind my Daddy in the morning to not use plastic baggies and I need fruit or rice cakes for snack”

We Future Cycle, a non profit organization specialized in bringing large scale sustainability programs to schools was hired to turn New Rochelle on a path toward sustainability.  4 presenters did class by class presentations to over 1000 students, helping them make the connection that snacks that are healthy for their body are often also healthy for the Earth as they come naturally unpackaged.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEven kindergarten students, when presented with a picture of the packaging waste of classroom snack knew immediately that most of that food belonged into the category of junk food. When asked if that food was healthy for their body, they all enthusiastically replied “no”. They listed the commonly known reasons on why not to eat junk food,  even the littlest ones knew the connection to obesity, diabetes and dental decay, amazing.

Tanya Kadaru has received 6 leaves  “My parents give me fruits and vegetables for snacks. They want me to stay healthy and get a lot of sleep so I can learn”.
Teachers are reporting a decrease in plastic baggies and more reusable containers. More students are bringing in water in thermoses to drink and skipping the juice boxes.
Trinity Elementary School is a shining example of how we can create a generation of kids that care through environmental education, and how it changes communities as well.

 

Zero Waste! A Reality at the German International School White Plains

roll out 1We knew from the get go, that the German International School in White Plains would not have much garbage, as it is a cafeteria with all washable plates, but even we were floored when after 450 students plus staff going through the line, we only looked upon 2 (two !) single serve wrappers and a wipe as trash. T H A T   W A S  I T ! 2 Wrappers!

We, at We Future Cycle are used to a 98% reduction of waste through source separation, so something like 400 lbs down to 8 lbs, but that 8 lbs is usually a bulging kitchen size bag full of single serve chip bags, wrappers, juice pouches, snack wrap, plastic baggies and things of the sort.  But 2 wrappers and a wipe were all that stared us in the face after opening the , already miniature sized bathroom type, trash can that was placed in the lunchroom.

roll out 6And talk about the students instantly learning what it means to put their food waste into compost and not -as before- in trash. In classroom and auditorium presentations all grades, from Pre-K through 11 were acquainted with societies biggest problem. Trash!

Making recycling interesting to elementary school students is easy, all you have to do is show them a turtle that is eating a plastic bag and they are fired up to save the world.

Going up the grades and it becomes increasingly difficult to make middle school and high school students excited about recycling, however they all were super interested. Learning about the foot print of Aluminium foil, or that islands 2000 miles away from the closest civilization are clogged up with garbage was an eye opener to these private scholars, that may have not had to make their own beds yet.

The result was immediately visible, total buy in from the entire building population. We Future Cycle is looking forward to doing a building wide audit to see how the building portion of the program works. Judging by the lunchroom, the German International School is very close to making Zero Waste a reality.

Teaching students to care about the environment

New Rochelle Trinity Elementary School Assistant Principal Inas Morsi Hogans has been for years a stout supporter of the We Future Cycle recycling program and knows that it takes regular refreshers for students to understand why they are sorting their lunch waste in the cafeteria.

Only if our head knows the why, the hands will do the what automatically.

Ms Morsi Hogans invited We Future Cycle to do student presentations in each classroom to refresh the older grades on how the program works, and of course to teach the younger grades. We Future Cycle staff members went from class room to classroom teaching the students that an empty bottle or peanut butter  jar is not trash, but rather material to make something new out of. The students were fascinated to learn where “away” was, when one talks about throwing something away.

In Westchester, “away” is the incinerator up the Hudson in Peekskill. A large Waste-to-Energy facility that burns Westchester’s 2500 daily tons of garbage into our air.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA regular lunch trash bag is a 55 gal 1mm thick trash bag. A school with 600 students generates between 13 to 20 bags of trash every lunch, each weighing around 12 -15 lbs, which means 333,333 bags of trash are burnt every day. That is an unfathomable number. I cannot even wrap my head around what kind of volume that represents. And that is just Westchester.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd New Rochelle Trinity students are drastically reducing their lunch waste by sorting. Out of 266 lbs of waste, only 4.5 lbs were non recyclable.

That is a whopping 98.3% reduction, simply by sorting out all the recycling, composting, excess liquid and the untouched foods. Through education and daily hands on participation, Trinity students care and they are making a huge difference. Can you just imagine if EVERY school did that? We Future Cycle is working towards just that.