Tag Archives: garbage

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.

 

 

 

School Waste Audits Show Change Is Very Possible

As Sustainability Coordinator and Waste Management Consultant for schools, I am always counting and weighing garbage bags, mostly under the watchful eyes of head custodians that are highly skeptical of being asked to institute a “recycling program”. Sometimes with the help of the students, sometimes without.

The general notion in schools is that when there is a blue bin somewhere, then there is a recycling program. Upon being asked how much commingled they are actually pulling out of the building to be recycled, I am often met with a lengthy explanation on why the material is so contaminated that they have to discard it as trash.

The prevalence is still that ” It is all garbage to me” and ” I don’t have time to recycle”.

That is where We Future Cycle, a non profit organization specialized on large scale sustainability programs comes in.

The mere fact that I come in and count and weigh the garbage puts a value on garbage, which was not there before. Custodial staff usually does not think of the cost associated with garbage, but being told just how much their school generates creates already an awareness.

Schools being supported by We Future Cycle are usually audited before any recycling program component is implemented, and then after each component comes on line, and then periodically to make sure things are still on tracks.

We have seen dramatic reductions from 277 lbs from lunch alone down to 3.5 lbs and 187 lbs from night clean down to 21 lbs.

Showing reduction results from other schools with similar number of students is first met with high degree of skepticism, but once they see me standing on a scale, holding a bulging dripping back of garbage to weigh it, they know, that School Waste Audits show that change is very possible.

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.

 

White Plains Schools Also Recycles Soft Plastics….because they can!

White Plains School District food service staff have been fabulous team players from the get-go in adopting the We Future Cycle lunchroom recycling program. We Future Cycle launched the recycling program at Church St, Ridgeway and Post Rd Elementary schools and the kitchen staff has been incredibly supportive and engaging.

All participating schools reduced garbage by a whopping 95-98% and the kitchens went down to a office-size trash bin with just a few used gloves and some dirty soft plastics, that is it!

However,  what really makes these food service workers stand out is their willingness to go beyond ….just because they can!

The kitchen is the only place in the building where clean soft plastic is collected and then eventually brought to the grocery store to be part of plastic bag recycling. Plastic bags, bread bags, and other  soft plastics are used to make composite wood, which is a mixture of sawdust and HDPE. As plastic bags are only recycled through the local grocery store and cannot go with the municipal commingled pick up, most kitchens are not willing to take on the task of sorting them out and then dropping them off at the grocery store on their own time.

White Plains kitchens said they can and they will. And so every week, sometimes even twice per week, one of these wonderful ladies drops of a bulging bag of clean, dry soft plastics for recycling. Way to go, what an example of going beyond…..

White Plains Post Road School Reduces Night Clean Garbage Beyond Imagination

Can you imagine a 600+ student elementary school reducing its overall daily garbage to a total of just 27 lbs!

Well, that is the reality at Post Road Elementary in White Plains.

754bf9b0-bdff-40fc-8c3e-7e04f1af9aafWe Future Cycle implemented the lunchroom portion of the program in February and reduced the garbage from 277 lbs daily to just 5 lbs for breakfast and lunch combined.

The second step was tackling the classrooms and the building in general. Signage and bins went into place and under the leadership of head custodian Rob Dell’Orletta the night clean crew kept the classroom materials sorted and bathroom paper towels sorted so they can be streamed into recycling and composting.

Post Rd school only had 3 bags of trash, practically without any recyclable material mixed in, weighing a total of 21.5 lbs. That. Is. All!

Out of a school with over 600 students. Amazing.

That is less then 1% of the nation’s average of 4.5 lbs per person per day. Seriously….Way to go. Congratulations to the entire Post Road Team on an amazing job.

 

Mamaroneck Middle School On WCBS Radio

WCBS Newsradio 880 is one of America’s most listened-to radio stations providing news and information on the AM dial in New York for 45 years.  “Traffic and Weather Together on the 8s” has been a mainstay with New York commuters for decades. With one of the largest, most veteran local news staffs in the country, WCBS provides coverage of breaking news, local news, business, sports and entertainment. WCBS 880 provides a 24 hour news stream via CBS New York.com.

Veteran Reporter Sean Adams came to Hommocks Middle School to interview Dr. Robert Shaps, Superintendent of Schools in Larchmont and Mamaroneck about the newly placed Rocket Composter. We Future Cycle Executive Director Anna Giordano explained that the benefits of the Rocket go beyond the 55% of food waste composted on site, as the program also allowed to sort other recyclable items out of the waste stream, bringing the school to a whopping 86% reduction in waste.

Stories From Main Street: Students Learn Valuable Lessons About Environment In Mamaroneck

mamaroneck rocket

 

Meet New Rochelle Jefferson’s Green Star Students

As in life, leaders rise to the challenge, bubble up from the masses to take on responsibility. To guide and to lead. This is exactly what we see in the schools we start the We Future Cycle Recycling Program. All students go through training and learn where “away” is, they all learn about the problems garbage presents, they all learn that they can all make a difference by sorting their waste in the correct bin, but in each school a handful of students are somehow grabbed personally  by the project and they become our Green Star Students.

Meet our New Rochelle Jefferson Elementary School  Breakfast Green Star Students Jimena Garcia, Alexandria Hunter, and Mark Macias.

These three students are managing the entire breakfast recycling project. Voluntary, on their own, and with great enthusiasm. They come in early, make a visual inspection that the station is set up correctly and make sure that all breakfast students are sorting their waste in the right bins. This kind of engagement, taking on a project, making sure on a day to day basis that things are working are signs of outstanding leadership qualities.

Way to go Jimena, Alexandria and Mark!

 

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.

The Moment That Made These Students Environmental Leaders

Meet Elizabeth Ortiz, Araceli Oseguera, Evelyn Argueta, Sofia Alvarez, Diego Ayala, Malaysia Dias, Alejandra Garcia and Isabella Ceja. These steadfast Green Team members at Columbus Elementary School have put themselves in charge of making sure the recycling system in the lunchroom is well organized and supervised. Every single day, they come up to help.

Today, We Future Cycle’s Executive Director Anna Giordano took some time to interview these future leaders to find out what their personal moment was, when they realized they just had to get up and do something.

Diego Ayala remembered that when he saw on his way home from school a soda can in the street with a small animal stuck in it, it just made click in his head and heart and he became a leading force in Columbus and his family to make a difference.

Other action stirring moments were the observation of a plastic bag in a tree and a bird having gotten entangled in it. Or a powerful documentary on TV about marine mammals entangled in plastic bags, or a pigeon getting stuck in a carelessly thrown away sauce cup.

Each student recalled this pivotal moment in their lives with great sincerity and it is that sincerity that shows each time they get up to help and go out of their way to make a difference. I am sure we will see many more great things from these exceptional students.

857 plastic bags per minute used in Westchester alone

DSCN2265This it what 857 plastic bags look like, strung up on a clothes line, and spread out to make a powerful statement. It is truly a mind boggling amount. It took 7 children two lunch periods to string them all up.

DSCN2284New Rochelle Columbus students are learning just HOW bad plastic bags are for our environment and how the small effort of bringing your own bag to the grocery store can make a huge difference.

In powerful essays, these students laid out just how easy it is to solve this problem, just bring your own bags.