I wanted to see what kind of reaction I would get from onlookers when I picked up litter while walking the dogs.
First of all, it was mind boggling just how much litter there was in this upscale Westchester suburbian neighborhood. A 30 min walk, covering maybe 1.5 miles produced 3 large bulging shopping bags of trash. From cans, bottles, cigarette boxes, milk cartons, yogurt containers to multitudes of single serve snack bags.
I was flabbergasted by the sheer number of carefully knotted newspaper sleeves with dog poop in it, draped decoratively on the curb, over someones fence or plainly thrown onto the storm sewer drain. What kind of person goes through the process of picking up after his/her dog and then believes to do the right thing by just dumping the bag somewhere?
The amount of litter in the storm drains is a stark reminder that people plainly do not know that the storm sewer goes directly to the ocean without any filtering step. Whatever washes into them will end up on the local beach as wash up. A sobering thought when going bag to the doggie poop bags.
The result of my social experiment was that every single car occupant that passed us turned their head to check out what we were doing and some rolled down their window to thank us. I believe, that the mere fact that they saw us picking up litter may have inspired others.
Being a role model pays off and it is really not hard to do!
Last night was one of those moments that will stay with me for life.
At the Beczak Environmental Education Center, a Satellite Campus for Sarah Lawrence College We Future Cycle was honored with not just one award but with four !
County Executive Rob Astorino took time out of his busy schedule to present a Westchester County Proclamations to Anna Giordano. What an honor to have June 8th proclaimed the official We Future Cycle Recognition day. Thank you!
MaryJane Shimpsky, County Legislator District 12, on behalf of Senator George Latimer awarded We Future Cycle the New York State Senate Proclamation and gave a heartfelt speech on how she has followed the progress the organisation made. We Future Cycle presented in the past twice to the Board of Legislators and Ms Shimpsky has always been a big supporter in word and deed. Thank you!
NY State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti presented the NYS Assembly Citation to We Future Cycle on behalf of Assemblyman Steve Otis and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin. Thank you
And to top it all off, We Future Cycle was awarded the Green Seal Award from the Federated Conservationists of Westchester County.
We are humbled and honored by the recognition and are excited to continue our work to make Westchester County school lunchrooms a nearly waste free environment by diverting 97% of the waste into recycling and composting all the while teaching students about how they are making a difference.
Aluminum foil, wonder of wonder, it wraps sandwiches, and keeps food hot or cold. But what does it actually take to make aluminum foil?
New Rochelle Trinity 5th grade STEAM students have recently learned all about it, and they all agreed that the cost of convenience for aluminum foil is WAY too high.
Aluminum does not exist in its free form in nature, instead Alumina silica is found in Bauxite. This ore is mainly found in thin layers in the tropics.
To get it, trees and soil are removed and the bauxite containing soil is mined and crushed. Sodium Hydroxide is added to dissolve the Alumina silica which is then smeltered to remove the last oxygen to become Aluminum.
Is our convenience worth the environmental destruction that Bauxite mining causes? And the failed clean up by mining companies when the mineral is exhausted?
We 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.
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.
Trash pre-sort (lbs)
Trash post-sort (lbs)
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.
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!
It was blistering cold, but that did not stop a group of very motivated New Rochelle Middle school students from pitching in at New Rochelle’s Five Island Park.
As part of the Junior Honor Society service hour requirements these upstanding kids donned gloves and started picking up trash. A real treasure trove, one might add. Tires, a tricycle, endless bottles and Styrofoam cups were bagged.
Sonia Morris and Stella Giordano, both 8th graders, decided to do it the hard way and chose the breakers as their spot to clean up. Climbing the boulders and reaching into crevices to dislodge the bottle was great fun and one nearly forgot about the ears that froze off in the wind chill.
It was a humbling experience to see just the amount of garbage within the rocks, and the yards and yards of discarded fishing line, entangled around things.
2 hrs later, 4 filled bags of trash and a donut in one hand, both recalled that it was hard work but also very rewarding, and they both felt good about giving up their weekend morning to make a difference.
Students from Ms Starcevic’s class just learned about the perils of littering and they are not holding back about what they learned and how they feel about it.
We Future Cycle just finished up teaching a program to all of Jefferson’s Kindergarten, first and second grade students on what happens to organic and inorganic materials in our world. The kids did a hands on (and rather messy…..and they LOVED that part) experiment to find out how water interacts with different materials. Afterwards they were invited to write about what they learned and if they were interested in more information.
Gabriella writes: ” I learned that I can pick up trash and that it is good to keep our world clean”
James learned that if you throw soft plastic then the fish will die, the turtles will die because they will eat the plastic and it clogs up their stomach.
Jaquan learned that the rain will bring the litter on the streets into the sewer system and that brings it to the sea and the fish can eat it.
Emalia did a great job retelling that she learned about how seeds grow and how to clean our Earth.
Tyanna took the time to recount the science experiment we did in class.
Monserrat shared that he learned all about seeds and how different they are and how surprised he was that they contained food. He also learned how important it is to clean the Earth.
Mia summarized very neatly that organic things smush (sic) in water and inorganic things look the same. She also said that in her house, bringing out the recycling is her job.
Alira learned that she will never litter and that seeds can grow into new plants
Every single student wrote that they want to learn more about how to make a difference in this world. They were attentive and all pledged to be good models, to never litter and to help clean up this world.
Thank you ! Ms Starcevic’s class for sending me all these wonderful letters.
Meet the Ridgeway Elementary School Kitchen Crew. These wonderful ladies make sure that Ridgeway students are happy campers in the lunchroom. Salads, sandwiches, hot food, all is prepared fresh right on site.
Ridgeway Elementary School was one of the White Plains pilot schools to join the We Future Cycle recycling program and the entire school embraced the program with gusto.
The kitchen crew sorts all food waste into compost, all packaging material into recycling and they are also sorting all clean soft plastic into a bag which gets recycled at the local grocery story as part of the plastic bag recycling. This portion of the program is completely voluntary, and Ridgways kitchen staff is going every week above and beyond to do their part for the environment.
I was proudly shown their office size garbage can that sported after a full day of work just a handful of gloves and a few dirty soft plastic food pouches.
That is truly a wonderful example of an entire school community making a difference and going green.
Last night about 300 of New Rochelle’s parents had a chance to stroll in the festively decorated lunchroom of Albert Leonard Middle School to view lots of silent auction item as well as tasting delicious fare from fabulous New Rochelle restaurants.
The annual ALMS PTSA fundraiser “Taste of New Rochelle” was a relaxing place to meet and greet parents we only get to see on our (hurried) way to drop off or pick up our kids.
Last night marked also the first time that this event was source separated to mirror what the students are doing in the lunchroom.
Parents had the opportunity to sort their waste into “Food & Paper” and “Commingled Recycling” and they all did it with gusto and flawlessly. Anna Giordano, Executive Director of We Future Cycle, the not-for-profit organisation that was hired to bring extensive sustainability programs to the district was there to help at the station and to share the fabulous results achieved in all the schools since the inception of the program. ALMS has reduced its lunchroom waste by a whopping 95%, its building waste by a good 50% and its kitchen waste by 65%. All in all, that is about 450 lbs of garbage NOT generated every day, and that just from one of the 9 participating New Rochelle schools.
Thanks to the program, New Rochelle School District was able to revamp its waste management system and save considerable funds. Carl Thurnau, the Director of Facilities for the district has just quantified it at the ongoing budget meetings with an annual savings of $130,000.
And of course, Westchester County is benefiting from the increase of recyclables delivered to the Material Recovery Facility near Stew Leonards. Recyclables are commodities that are sold back to industry for considerable prices.
ALMS Taste of New Rochelle generated 3 large bags of recyclables, one bag of food waste for composting, and only about 2 lbs of trash, mainly Styrofoam products.