Once a week, a swarm of green team students are fanning out over the New Rochelle Ward Elementary building to collect used up markers from each classroom.
Students have learned that most materials can be recycled if they are just sorted properly and under the leadership of Mr Nodiff, the science teacher, boxes and boxes of markers are diverted from the incinerator to be shipped to Crayola for recycling.
Never underestimate kid power when it comes to creating change!
White Plains elementary students know all about recycling. No wonder, all schools are participating for years in the We Future Cycle recycling program, sorting their waste in the lunchroom and thus diverting 97% into recycling and composting streams. Mamaroneck Avenue School is a particularly well oiled machine thanks to the super supportive administration and a head custodian fully on board.
However, even though these youngsters are masters of the sorting, when asked what happens to the material, their answer comes a bit hesitantly….”it is getting recycled…?”, the statement more like a question than an answer.
We Future Cycle had recently the opportunity to share the inner workings of a Material Recovery Facility with grade 3, 4 and 5. Students learned in auditorium presentations how the world of science dominates the sorting process by using friction, gravity, magnetism, anti-current. sensors and motion. They learned that materials can only be recycled if they are sorted so cleanly into just THE ONE type of material. They learned about optical scanners, contamination and wishful recycling and they were stunned into silence while learning what it takes to make some of those everyday materials. Can you imagine an auditorium filled with third graders in unison gasping of disbelieve and then stunned silence?
Learning about the environmental foot print of materials is the key to waste reduction. We Future Cycle empowers students to share that message with their caregivers. Nothing is more frustrating to a child that just learned to embrace sustainability, only to find non-recyclable stuff in their lunchbox every day. MAS students pledged to be agents of change in their community. Way to go!
Meet Gloria, a wonderful lunch monitor at New Rochelle Columbus Elementary school. For nearly 3 hours, every day, she smiles at her students, opens endless milk cartons for them, helps with anything and all around eating lunch and then is the driving force to make sure that Columbus students sort their lunch waste according to the We Future Cycle system. She is passionate about saving the environment and found her calling to make sure things run smoothly in that very busy lunchroom.
The lunchroom features two recycling stations, neatly signed with large colorful posters, but Gloria added a wonderful personal and artistic touch to it, by taking the actual materials and creating a cute mobile to be hung right over the opening as yet another visual reminder for correct sorting.
Thank you Gloria for making Columbus’ station special.
Rye Middle School joined all of the Rye Elementary Schools in implementing the We Future Cycle recycling-composting program. The launch was a huge success as all of the incoming 6th graders and most of their 7th grade school mates have done the program in their elementary school, they easily fell back into the routine of quickly sorting their waste. And 8th grade matched their stride with great enthusiasm.
Rye MS usually generated 140 lbs of waste from about 1000 students, in an impressive pile of 12 bags, all carried out one by one by the custodial staff, leaving behind a trail of dripping milk.
But no more, the We Future Cycle program separates liquids from packaging, and food from packaging. Easy quick movements to empty and sort. And the results are always the same. A stunning 96% diversion rate into recycling and composting. Only 6 lbs or 4% of the 140 lbs was non-recyclable and will have to be transported for incineration by Westchester County. That of course also means that 96% of the material is not adding to our air pollution, and we will retain the resources by recycling and composting them. Truly a win win on all sides.
And the numbers are adding up. A daily 136 lbs reduction in waste over the course of a school week is a 680 lbs reduction, and over the course of a school year, a whopping 12.25 TON reduction. That translated into volume and garbage bags would fill a school auditorium. 2200 bags of materials, diverted away from the garbage. Truly something to be proud of. And that is just one of the Rye schools!
The RMS community, led by principal Dr. Ann Edwards, were instrumental in achieving this result.
Rye School district is successfully implementing the We Future Cycle Recycling program in all aspects of school life. Each elementary school is diverting 95% of its waste into composting and recycling streams with students being enthusiastic partners in this program.
Osborn’s PTO just organized a fabulous “Scare Fair” and of course implemented the sorting program into that event. Despite the weather, there were wall to wall people enjoying the fun entertainment and the wonderful choices for food.
Food was contained to the lunchroom and 3 recycling stations were set up and monitored to allow for waste diversion, the same way the students are doing it every day. Consistency is an important factor for long term learning.
We Future Cycle representatives were on hand to supervise the sorting stations and use that opportunity to share information with parents and other fair participants. Most parents had heard from their youngsters about the program and were eager have their kids model what needed to be done. We shared data and background information with parents and other fair participants and most were quite astonished to learn just HOW much was diverted and the cost of garbage in general.
The Osborn Scare Fair diverted about 200 lbs of food waste into compost, about 8 large bags of commingled into recycling and only 2 bags were non recyclable items that made it into the trash.
Custodial staff estimates a 90-95% reduction of garbage through diversion. What most people do not realize. When we divert materials from the garbage, not ONLY do we ELIMINATE the emissions associated with the burning of that trash, we are also RETAINING the resources.
Can you image what it could mean if the entire country was to divert 90-95% of its waste into composting and recycling? Definitely something to strive for, and so easy to do. Just separate your waste! Done.
Ask these kids, they do it every day, without even thinking twice about it now.
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.
And Columbus students totally get it!