Tag Archives: lunchroom

New Rochelle Columbus Kindergarten students Hard At Work For the Environment

Every day at lunch, Columbus Elementary school has about 15 enthusiastic students helping at the recycling station. My favorite group are the kindergarteners.

They cannot even look over the rim of the bin, but they are excited recyclers. When they come into the lunchroom, they first run over to me to ask if they can help. Of course they can help, but they are all sent to go and eat first. After a while, they start showing up, first carefully sorting their own tray and then proudly taking their position behind the station.

The most critical position is watching over the food waste bin to make sure no plastic or other contaminants end up in it, and the second most important job is the correct stacking of the trays.  Meet  Jose, the Master of the trays.  I just love this little boy!

The German International School of NY launching on-site food composting with We Future Cycle

fdc93e79-289d-458e-936e-c3c74b34d25cThe lunchroom in the German School in White Plains resembles more an upscale restaurant then a school lunchroom. You will find a decorative salad bar, a drink dispenser, a milk dispenser with your choice of 1% milk or 1% chocolate milk, a juice and sparkling water dispenser, the dessert counter with the fresh fruit of the day in a sun light filled high ceiling room, with light wood round tables. The food is all prepared on site, with the daily soup, vegetarian choices and meat dish.

b39b7799-e043-4e2e-b656-1efb956b6ecaChef Paul Boos, Food Service Director with Compass USA, personally serves the students and the school is proudly looking upon a 100% participation rate among students.

b8649d72-a671-4444-9da9-d94f088dd8b6The school uses only reusable dish and flatware and students are returning their trays to a counter that leads to the dishroom.

Now, GISNY, under the leadership of Edward Schlieben, administrator and a very active Green Team is launching into food composting on site. The handsome garden is visible right from the lunchroom and it is the logical next step in their journey to zero waste.

Come January 2016, students will be scraping their food waste into the compost bucket instead of garbage and the student green team will manage the compost bins. We Future Cycle is proud to be helping the GISNY on their path to truly zero waste.

 

New Rochelle Columbus School Takes Recycling To The Convention

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Christmas Tree Ornaments

Anybody for some Christmas Tree ornaments made out of Nestle Nespresso cups?

 

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How how about a gorgeous piggy bank?

New Rochelle Columbus Elementary School students have truly internalized the Recycling Initiative. Ms Nunez 5th graders did a most fabulous booth covering the 3 Rs in such a wonderful comprehensive way.

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Journal News covering We Future Cycle Recycling Program at Ridgeway Elementary

On page 3A of the Sunday Dec 6th edition of the Journal News is a lovely article about the White Plains Ridgeway Elementary school’s recycling program.

Akiko Matsuda, the reporter that covers environmental issues  for the Journal News in Westchester County contacted We Future Cycle in August to find out more about the program. We had long conversations covering the beginnings, the challenges and the successes.  Akiko was hooked and ready to see the program in action.

Schools don’t easily admit reporters but Ridgeway Elementary School is so proud of its lunchroom that they were happy to share the good news.  Assistant Principal James Graziano is an enthusiastic supporter of the program and together with his fabulous head custodian Pedro Molino showed off his kids with a proud smile.

We Future Cycle is excited that this news coverage has raised awareness in the community that other school districts contacted us to find out more about the program.  Thank you Akiko and thank you Ridgeway students for showing off that you can make a difference.

Mamaroneck’s Middle School has Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Rocket Composter

Dr Shaps and Dr Weitzman presenting the We Future Cycle Recycling Program
Dr Shaps and Dr Weitzman presenting the We Future Cycle Recycling Program

Larchmont and Mamaroneck’s Superintendent Dr. Shaps and Hommocks Principal Dr. Seth Weitzman proudly cut the ribbon to the first Rocket Composter at a Westchester public school.

Thanks to a generous grant of the Education Foundation, the purchase of this stainless steel machine that takes food waste and wood chips and 2 weeks later, compost comes out the other end, was made possible. After an additional 4 weeks of maturation, the compost will have finished its nitrification process and the compost can be used in the garden.

We Future Cycle was hired to do the program implementation as well as teaching students how to sort properly. The rocket is a picky eater, it only likes food.

Slide3The additional benefit of the We Future Cycle program is that apart from the food waste, also excess liquids, paper and commingled recycling are sorted out and sent into recycling streams rather then up the Hudson to be burnt as trash. A win win situation for all parties.

As a matter of fact, Hommocks is able to divert a whopping 86% of its waste into recycling or composting streams.

Mamaroneck’s Mayor Mr Rosenblum shared with a smile that his DPW guys already reported to him how much of a difference that makes.

Dr Shaps is very proud of Hommocks success and is looking forward to be implementing the recycling program in the other schools too.

We Future Cycle is proud to be helping with that as well.

 

 

 

 

Joining We Future Cycle To Make A Difference

Enid Blount Press joined WeFutureCycle to help be part of the solution of recycling and composting in the schools in 2015.

Enid is a mom and a professional musician.

On the day her 2nd Grade daughter came home, distraught that the school had brought back Styrofoam trays in the lunchroom, she decided to call the school system and ask what their plan was for bringing back compostable trays.  Their response was that the cardboard trays would be back 5 months later, in the fall.   Joining Anna Giordano, who was behind getting the Styrofoam out of the schools, was her next step.

Enid now helps in the New Rochelle school system as well as other schools with the composting and recycling in the lunchrooms.  Enid is “thrilled to help tackle the waste” and provide a better environmental education for our community along with her colleagues.

We Future Cycle is extremely proud to have Enid. She immediately jumped into action by joining the implementation at the White Plains Church St Elementary School.

White Plains Ridgeway Elementary School reduces garbage by 95%

White Plains Ridgeway Elementary school was chosen as one of the pilots to implement the We Future Cycle School lunch recycling program.

With enthusiastic support from Assistant Principal James Graziano  Ridgeway students learned  in assemblies that packaging is not trash but material for new things, they learned where the garbage goes when it is not sorted or recyclable, and they all agreed that they did not want to live next to a dump nor an incinerator. For good measures, they also agreed that animals probably won’t like living next to one either.

The custodial staff, under leadership of Pedro Molina, was super supportive, helping to set up the recycling station, going way out of their way to make the school a success. On Halloween a full bodied Batman was helping students at the recycling station. How fabulous is that!

Ridgeway had 124 lbs of waste of which only 6 lbs were actual trash, all other was either liquid, food waste, milk cartons or commingled recycling. A whopping 95% reduction. Now, that is truly something to write home about.

Ridgunnamed (5)eway’s parents came to “do lunch” with their children, helping to train the students in the new sorting system.  It takes active supervision and guidance to teach 700 students to sort and these parents were up to the task, fully supporting the efforts of the school to create a generation of kids that care.

New Rochelle Columbus Parents Eagerly Helping Students To Learn About Sustainability

Columbus Elementary School has recently implemented the We Future Cycle School Lunch RIMG_0297ecycling program and under the leadership of incoming PTA President Karina Torres, many very  engaged parents at the Columbus Elementary School are stepping up to the plate….. or better, the  source separation station…to help teach students about Sustainability.

IMG_0322During each lunch period the stations are filled with exuberant students, donned with yellow reusable gloves, teaching others how to sort properly, under the watchful eyes of the parent helpers.

Karina Torres shared : “I am happy to see how the students ask me if I can ask their parents to come to school to help with the recycling project.”
Laura Flores commented with a smile : “I am impressed at the student helpers.  They are informative at directing their fellow schoolmates to show them where each recycling item goes, these children are our future recycle savvy.”
And the ultimate proof that environmental education in schools can change the community was shared by Maricela Jimenez: “I will now start to make changes to my everyday use of items…a simple change is to use reusable containers rather than ziploc bags which creates more trash”.

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Many parents commented that it was an interesting experience to see their children in the lunchroom environment and they really enjoyed being part of this project.  Some mothers expressed shock at the amount of food that is wasted. Every day, the students are sorting out untouched food items into a share basket. A typical lunch will generate 2-3 copy paper boxes of untouched food.

IMG_0292Araceli Perez: “I find it very interesting how all the students, staff, and parent volunteers work together to teach one another the methods of recycling. My daughter now teaches every one at home that there are other forms of recycling such as food waste is for compost.”

Ms. Owens, Assistant Principal, Anna Giordano and Maggie Dickensen (Whitson Food Service Manager) are working together to reduce the food the children are taking but not eating, as well as how to channel the untouched food to the local needy.

Ms. Nunez, Principal, is very proud of how Columbus School has embraced this program and rightfully so!

New Rochelle Columbus Students are making a huge difference

Introducing Sustainability Education and Source Separation to a school is a massive undertaking because of the sheer number of  stakeholders. Think about it, changing behavior from “throwing it all away” to “responsibly sorting” in a building that has 1,100 people zooming through it at all times is huge!

Well, New Rochelle’s Columbus Elementary School is showing how it is done.

Ms. Nunez, Principal, and Ms. Owens, Assistant Principal, know that it takes everybody to be on the same page to be successful – not just within the building, but also from Food Service, Facilities, Central Administration and of course the parents.  A brilliant move to create consensus and ownership of the program at every level.

We Future Cycle then presented to each stakeholder group, such as the custodial staff, teachers, parents, monitors, and every single student in small groups. Sharing the visual of the amount of garbage that is being generated every day, and then adding it up to just one week was greeted with audible sounds of shock and disbelief.

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23 bags of trash every day is a pretty powerful argument, and that is just from lunch. It does not even include the 20 bags coming out of night clean.

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We Future Cycle involved the students to help with a Waste Audit. The students counted every single packaging material that is brought into the cafeteria and the raw data is now with the 5th grade Kaleidoscope students to work with.  Learning how hard data collection can be was a lesson in itself.

Read here how Columbus students reduced their lunchroom waste by 98%.

Setting up a building to allow for proper flow of materials relies heavily on clear and consistent signage as well as proper placement of the correct bins. Head Custodian George directed his team to set up each bin as per our suggestion with the signage provided by us, and the success was instantaneous. Kindergarten students carefully rinsed out their snack containers to place them into the commingled bin, proudly informing the teacher. “See, I am recycling, Mr Mastro.’ Every day, eager hands are up to get the job to bring the class room bins into the central hall way stations.IMG_0321

Columbus is only a few days into the process, but has already successfully reduced lunchroom waste by 98%, from just under 400 lbs per lunch to only 8 lbs, and the building output has also drastically been reduced by diverting the paper and commingled into recycling.

Columbus students are super excited because a film crew is covering the transformation of the school and the documentary is going to be shown on the big screen.  I can share already with you that Columbus is full of raw talent. So, watch out for the showing of “Columbus Students are Making a Real Difference” coming soon to the picture house near you.

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How Much is Actually “a Ton of Garbage”?

Garbage costs money.  However only very few people actually know how much it costs and what a ton looks like. Very few of us think further then to the curb.

Let’s look at school garbage a little closer. A school with 830 students generated 23 large black bags of garbage every lunch, the total weight of those bags is 398.5 lbs.

This is what 23 bags look like. IMG_0258 Now that we know what about 400 lbs of garbage looks like, lets think about it.

A ton of garbage costs the tax payer around $80.00 to just dump it onto the tipping floor of the Incinerator, the big trash burning facility up in Peekskill. 400 lbs is a fifth of a ton.  So, imagine 5 times the amount you see, or 115 bags of trash. Clearly the $80 per ton does not represent the only cost of garbage. This material has to be put in bags, then brought outside into the dumpster, then loaded by workers into diesel fuel guzzling trucks (about 2.5 miles per gallon of diesel), driven to a transfer station, dumped there, then loaded onto large trucks and driven 50 miles up north to be dumped onto the tipping floor of the incinerator. And then it is burnt into our air. I get dizzy just looking at how often this material needs to be touched and handled for it “to go away”. It takes that much time and effort to “just throw something away”.

We just started the School lunch recycling program in this school and the kids sorted their lunchwaste into liquids, commingled, milk cartons, compost and trash. The results were astounding. unnamed

Out of the previous 398.5 lbs, only 8 lbs were actually non recyclable. That means that 98% of the material is recyclable.  So, “just throwing it away” is not just costing us a lot of money, but in fact, we use tax payer money to burn materials that we could easily sell for a profit. unnamed (2)

This is what 10 lbs of commingled looks like. Some math on the value of commingled. 1 ton of plastic PETE 1 sells from the Yonkers MRF for around $800. (the cost is market driven, oil dependent and is fluctuating). 10 lbs of plastic (to simplify this calculation, it is all the same resin) 2000 lbs of plastics sell for $800.00 10 lbs = $4.00 Milk cartons sell for $450 per ton. 30 lbs = $6.75 IMG_0278And this is what 15 lbs of milk cartons look like, we had two of these bags. And two full 5 gallon buckets with waste liquid weighing 74 lbs. That means we use fossil fuels to truck liquids 50 miles north just to burn them, rather then sending them down the drain? By far the heaviest was the food waste. 180 lbs of wasted food from 800 kids, plus about 50 lbs of untouched never opened food that was placed into the share basket. Clearly, a ton of garbage is a lot, but as you can see, only 2% of it is actually non recyclable.

So, our convenience to “just throw it away” costs us all dearly. Not just as hard cash but also at great environmental expense.