Can you imagine 110 times the amount of garbage as in this picture? Well, this is what Hastings-on-Hudson school district has not generated in the past year thanks the robust We Future Cycle recycling program it adopted last year. About 22 tons.
Thanks to the endless energy and support of Maureen Carabello, Treasurer, as well as the two head custodians in the elementary school and the middle/high school Hastings can look proudly upon major accomplishments.
Both buildings reduced their garbage so significantly that they reduced the number of dumpster by 50% and were able to renegotiate a $2000.00 reduction in their pick up cost.
Custodial staff was also able to reduce their plastic bag usage and purchases by 50% which is an expense often overlooked.
Truly an astonishing first year results. Hats off to Hastings-on-Hudson.
On October 24th at 10 am 60 Pelham residents arrived, ready to tackle the problem of litter. EcoPel, the organizer, joined forces with We Future Cycle to include in this 4th year clean up, also textile recycling.
As grassroots, non-partisan organization in Pelham NY concerned with environmental issues, it is important to get the message out, and this year EcoPel is concentrating on schools and textiles. There is a ground swell of concerned citizens and EcoPel was pleased to have this fantastic turn out.
A make shift donation area supervised by students was set up and loads of textiles were brought to be recycled, rather then being disposed of in the trash. These textiles went into a Spin Green Textile recycling bin at the Columbus Elementary School in New Rochelle. A win win situation. Pelham was able to divert textile from the waste, educated their citizens and Columbus is able to receive the revenue from the bin for their students.
EcoPel successfully integrated the use social media to spread the word to the adults in the Pelham community as well as the local papers. This year EcoPel also integrated the local church into their campaign, as the event was featured on the weekly church bulletin.
All of Pelhams High School and Middle Scholl students are required to complete community service hours to graduate. EcoPel contacted many teachers and guidance counselors at the schools to get the word out to the students. At the events the names of the participating students were collected so appropriate credit can be given.
A success event, due to diligent work of the EcoPel members getting the word out, and now the knowledge that textiles are recyclable is starting to grow roots. Way to go!
Columbus Elementary School was the proud winner for the coveted Nina Chin Writing Contest Grant. Mrs. Nunez, Principal, gave 3rd, 4th and 5th graders the opportunity to participate by writing an essay to the Topic “I can make a difference”. 145 students rose to the challenge, an outstanding level of participation, thanks to two teachers Ms Costa and Ms Alexander-Zahn, who went from class to class to promote the contest.
On June 15th at 10:00, the auditorium was filled with excited students. Who snagged the top prizes per grade?
The ceremony began with a presentation by 11 students sharing information about Columbus’ recycling program. Students shared that they learned that they can make a big difference by sorting their waste into different categories, they were proud to have weighed the materials and realized that instead of making 400 lbs or garbage, they only made 8 lbs and all the rest is now raw material for new things.
A second grader said that she is now the recycling specialist in her house and is teaching her mom about it. A kindergarten student loudly proclaimed that we only have one Earth and she will make sure that all her friends are taking care of it with her.
A sideways glance to the dignitaries Derrik and Jean Chin, Irene Schindler and Rev. Jennie Talley showed that they were very moved, clutching tissues.
The second part of the celebration was Mrs. Nunez calling one by one the runner ups and winners per grade up to the front to receive their certificate and their envelope with the cash prize. While the kids came up, some excerpts of their essay was shared.
Some truly powerful statements came from these young minds.
Mia Torres shared in her essay that she wants to help the environment because when she looks outside, she sees plastic bags in the trees. She doesn’t like that because the trees help us breathe.
Jasmin Alvarez very wisely said “Live like every day is Earthday!”
And Willy Hidalgo says; ” to make Earth green we have to care for it. We also have to clean up liter and garbage, even if it is not yours!”
Willy, you are SO right! Well said.
Michelle Oliveros thought long term, an outstanding achievement for a 5th grader. She said; ” We have to keep the Earth clean for our future families. We also have to let our families know about recycling and reusing. It is all about our Earth.”
Creative Change Educational Solutions Founder and Executive Director Susan Satone asked herself in 2002:
What do you do if you’re a teacher and everything you’re passionate about is largely absent from the curriculum?
This is the dilemma I faced more than 20 years ago when I was teaching in the public schools. I had discovered sustainability through the issue of world hunger and was desperately searching for a way to bring these issues into my teaching. I wanted to inspire students and develop their skills in addressing global issues. And that’s when I decided to start Creative Change. I wanted to build an organization focused on supporting educators to teach effectively about sustainability. I wanted to equip people with quality curriculum that supports inquiry, engagement and action.
We Future Cycle’s mission is to bring sustainability awareness to students, as young as kindergarten. Children can learn that their choices, their actions count and can make a big difference. We know that doing hands-on source separation in the lunchroom needs to be backed up with class room activities. We created the 2 week “Bash the Trash” program where a 10 day curriculum is tying each step of the program into ELA, Math, Social Studies and Science.
Creative Change Educational Solutions graciously supplied us with cutting edge, STEM oriented lesson units, helping teachers to incorporate sustainability education into the mainstream curriculum.
For more information on Creative Change Educational Solutions, go to CREATIVECHANGE.NET
We Future Cycle and The Science Barge are working together to bring Environmental Education to Westchester Schools.
Creating Change is all about showing alternatives. That is exactly the mission of the Science Barge in Yonkers.
The Science Barge is a prototype sustainable urban farm developed by NY Sun Works and acquired by Groundwork Hudson Valley in October, 2008 to be operated as an environmental education center.
The Science Barge greenhouse, floating on the Hudson River, grows an abundance of fresh produce including tomatoes, melons, greens, and lettuce with zero net carbon emissions, zero pesticides, and zero runoff. All of the energy needed to power the Barge is generated by solar panels, wind turbines, and biofuels while the hydroponic greenhouse is irrigated solely by collected rainwater and purified river water, thus operating completely “off the grid.”
It is the only fully functioning demonstration of renewable energy supporting sustainable food production in New York. It is now docked in downtown Yonkers just north of the Yonkers Pier.
With 2014 being such an incredible year we are looking forward to 2015 and the positive change it can bring to Westchester schools.
My personal wish list for 2015 is
1. Implementing We Future Cycle’s School Lunch and Building-Wide Recycling and Composting Program to 10 More School Districts in 2015, even if it is just in one pilot school per district. Implementing these programs is very do-able, but working with experts is critical to ensure a successful implementation. Results will speak for themselves and that will hopefully lead to district-wide implementation in many Westchester School districts.
Just imagine, if one school reduces its garbage from 22 bags per day down to less then 1/4 bag per day, what kind of impact this will have if 10 more districts will join the program. And just imagine all those students going back home to their parents and sharing their enthusiasm to save the world.
2. Creating the First Leaf and Food-Waste Composting Site in Westchester.So far, only very few communities are composting their leaves, most are trucking them to Rockland County at great expense in fossil fuel consumption, labor and heavy equipment on our streets. So far, no community is doing larger scale, organized food waste composting instead nature’s valuable resource is treated as trash, plastic bagged and burnt. The good news is that several communities are now studying how to solve this problem. We are proud to be on the forefront with them.
3. Integrating Sustainability Education into Curriculum. We have done numerous environmental projects with individual schools such as green writing contests, waste free snack education, TerraCycle Ambassador programs, kindergarten recycling sorting games and it shows again and again, that when students are made aware early of their personal ability to create environmental change, that the ripple effect through the community is amazing.