Students looked somewhat bored when they heard that they will learn about water and one student piped up smartly :”I know, I know it’s H2O, has a Ph of 7 and can exist in liquid, solid and gaseous state”
With a smile, I asked that student where her water comes from and after a fraction of hesitation came a much more subdued “out of the faucet”…… phrased more like a question than a statement. And she was suddenly wide awake and much more interested.
New Rochelle School District understands that environmental literacy cannot stop at the lunchroom recycling but should be carried throughout the curriculum to have students internalize that their every day actions have a big impact on the environment. Albert Leonard Middle School has invited Anna Giordano into the classroom and students are learning as a curriculum add-on about the environmental foot print of something as mundane as turning on the faucet.
Walking students through where their drinking water comes from, what steps it has to go through before it arrives conveniently at their kitchen faucet was quite eye opening for them.
A collective gasp was heard upon being asked what they think happens when they flush.
Students took a second to process the word “Bio Solids” but quickly chuckled. Seeing pictures of the New Rochelle Waste Water Treatment plant put into prospective the monumental task it is to keep society going.
We covered the steps in the Waste Water Treatment plant and how communities have implemented waste water to drinking water programs. Students shuddered by the thought of former toilet water making its way back into the faucet, but realized at some point that reality requires this and it is ultimately cheaper than ocean water desalination.
And learning about the marketing hoax of bottled water was the true eye-opener for students. Can you imagine 7th graders coming up to express thanks for teaching them about water? Well, it was heartwarming and truly special!
Last night, We Future Cycle hosted an informational table at the White Plains Mamaroneck Avenue School at the Back -To- School Open House. Talking to parents showed that even the K students with only about 10 days of lunchroom sorting under their (tiny) belts brought the information about recycling home and some even effected change already. It was heart warming to hear parents say how excited their kids were about being part to save the world. One mother shared with me that her son told her on day two that she needed to get another bin to sort out recyclables (which she did)
One father shared with me that the favorite word of his brand new kindergarten student is commingled and he sits at dinner and identifies the different materials he sees.
To give some background, White Plains School district hired We Future Cycle in 2015 to implement the recycling program in its elementary schools, moving into the middle schools by 2016 and now starting the HS school. Administration at MAS has been outstanding supporters of this program and this percolates through the building. Students are lining up to help at the recycling stations, students are signing up to help sweep and wipe tables, every single classroom has a recycling stations and while walking the building it was heartwarming to see that every single bin was perfectly sorted.
This proves that environmental education in schools can change communities. It teaches responsibility and personal commitment. All life long lessons. Hats off to MAS students for being the change we want to see in this world.
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?
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.
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.
Check out these two recycling rangers from White Plains Ridgeway Elementary School.
They are bringing the organic snack waste from their classroom to the lunchroom. There it is combined with the food waste that will be composted. White Plains has adopted the We Future Cycle Recycling Program last year and is working hard to make its schools a waste free environment. And Ridgeway is very much on its way.
The lunchroom has reduced garbage by a whopping 95% through sorting and diversion into recycling and composting and each classroom is doing the same thing.
Students learned in We Future Cycle presentations how to reduce snack waste by choosing naturally unwrapped foods as well as using reusable containers. Each time a student was waste free he or she got a leaf to paste on the “Ridgeway Caring Tree” and the tree looks beautiful and very “leafy”.
Every day, students of all grades bring their organics down to the lunchroom and carefully clean their pail. Head Custodian Pedro Molina reports that there is practically nothing in the trash at the end of the day.