Tag Archives: money

Recycling at a Middle School? Not for the faint hearted but New Rochelle Isaac Young MS pulled it off flawlessly

Any parent of a middle schooler can attest to the level of difficulty of making their youngster do anything out of the ordinary, especially if it does not involve electronics.

New Rochelle Isaac Young MS just joined the growing group of schools to have introduced the We Future Cycle Recycling Program. This program reduces waste by sorting materials into excess liquid, recyclable material, compost and untouched food to be donated. Isaac Young MS results were particularly astounding.

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348 lbs of unsorted garbage

From 348 lbs down to a mere 7.5 lbs, from 20 bulging and dripping bags to one single fluffy one.

Under the guidance of Assistant Principal Dan Gonzales and Head Custodian Bill Coleman, the school systematically put the program in place. The We Future Cycle Executive Director presented to all teachers, all security staff, all custodial and night clean staff and finally to all the students the detrimental effects of garbage on our environment and how easy it is to sort the waste into recyclable and compostable avenues.

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This is what 7.5 lbs of soft plastic looks like.

Teachers reported how shocked they were to learn about the cost of garbage removal to the tax payer and to society at large. Students reported that they had no idea that something as easy as sorting could make such a huge difference.

All of Isaac Young 6th graders had gone through the program already in their elementary schools and fell right back into the routine. 7th and 8th graders are adjusting nicely to the “new normal”. Both lunchroom cleaners as well as the head custodian are reporting that they were skeptical in the beginning but upon seeing the amazing results are fully on board.

We Future Cycle is excited to be also part of the newly created Recycling Club to bring even more environmental awareness to the students. Plans are in place to use the lunchroom walls for student made educational materials outlining the environmental foot print and end of life cycle challenges of packaging materials they hold in their hand on a daily basis.

Recycling at a Middle School, not for the faint hearted but New Rochelle Isaac Young MS pulled it off flawlessly. Way to go!

New Rochelle Columbus Students Pledging to Make Good Choices

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Principal Michael Galland introduces We Future Cycle

As a sustainability consultants to the largest school districts in Westchester County, We Future Cycle presenters get to talk to many students, personally my favorite part of the job.

I usually bring a full bag of all kinds of packaging material which I theatrically empty onto a table in front of the students and then neatly arrange the empty bottles, empty cups, empty wrappers, empty boxes, empty bags, empty juice pouches. I remain quiet while listening to the students wondering aloud what I was doing with all that garbage. Some positively snare at it.

I then ask the students what I brought them, holding up a random empty packaging item. A kindergarten student would tell me exactly what I held in my hand…a bottle, ….a can…. a fork. By 2nd grade latest,  I get disgusted shout outs of “garbage!”, or “trash”…..with the occasional “recycling” thrown in.

I start by telling them that I did not bring them trash. I pause. They are quiet and bewildered. Then I tell them that I did not bring them recycling. Again I pause. By now, the students are clearly confused, but their interest is very much peaked, there is no sound to be heard, they are anxiously awaiting my answer. And then I tell them, that I brought them material and they decide every time they discard something if it becomes recycling or trash, just by choosing the right bin. Walking them through the example of building with lego brings the concept “many small pieces make something usable, which can be broken down again into small pieces” very much home to them. They got that. When I asked them if they would ever consider throwing their lego in the garbage, they emphatically call out “no” and when I ask them if they ever considered throwing their left over sandwich into the lego box, they paused for a split second and also called out “no”, but in that split second, they got it. They got that everything has its place and mixing it is no good.

Teaching them from here on was a breeze. At the end,  when I asked them if they are going to make good choices now as to where they put their material, I got an enthusiastic positive response. New Rochelle Columbus students are pledging to make every time they have to discard something the right choice! Way to go, Columbus!

 

White Plains Church St School tackling Single Serve Snack Waste

White Plains Church St Elementary School students have learned all about sorting and recycling. Last year, the school implemented the We Future Cycle Recycling Program and has had fantastic results

Before implementation Church Street Elementary generated 196 lbs of waste in the lunchroom every day. But with the program in place, all liquids, compostables and recyclables were sorted out, only 3 lbs of actual trash was left over. And even 18.5 lbs of untouched food was rescued and donated. A win – win – win situation.

While this 98% reduction of waste through diversion is fabulous, these 3 lbs constitute a kitchen sized bag filled to the brim with single serve snack waste like juice pouches, chips, cookie wrappers and hundreds and hundreds of sandwich bags.

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This problem is now being tackled. We Future Cycle’s experienced presenters skillfully helped the students to see the connection between food and their body and ultimately their health. They all knew that chips and cookies were junk food and not good for them, but they mentally separated “snack” from the concept of “food”.

Walking them through reading labels, understanding the marketing behind colorful pictures of fruit on a package of sweets that contains only 1% fruit juice was an eye opening experience for them.

And then walking them through how what is not good for their body is also not good for the Earth as the single serve packaging is trash, energized them into making a change. The air was buzzing with students making suggestions on how to make a difference.

 

The Myth of Compostable Flatware

Check out this so called “compostable” spoon. This is after it has been in my active compost heap for over a year. No decomposition signs AT ALL, just as hard, shiny and sturdy as before. So why are they even called “compostable”?

These things are sold as disposable and bio degradable, but at least in my compost pile absolutely nothing happened to the material.  They are expensive and people are willing to spend the extra money because they want to do the right thing. It’s a $30 million  business.

Manufactures claim they will break down completely, but the fine print on the package outlines that only in commercial composting facility it might be the case.

Talking to operators of commercial composting facility offers a different picture though.

Alisha McCutheon runs the composting facility. She says a lot of her customers don’t know most facilities can’t accept bio-plastics. So, they’re in the mix.

“Thin things like bio-bags break down pretty readily,” says McCutheon. “Things like spudware, potato cutlery, forks and knives made out of cornstarch — they almost don’t break down at all.”

McCutheon points to a large pile of debris. It’s the leftovers — even a nerf football — that didn’t break down after five months of composting.

She picks up a compostable spoon and dusts it off. She says all the leftovers – including the spoon — are now on the way to the trash.

And, that’s not good news for the environment. And not good news for the customer that paid big money for wanting to do the right thing.

 

 

 

White Plains School Mom: “We are making changes to make a difference”

I am a mom in the George Washington Elementary School community in White Plains.

I went into my son’s classroom to hear We Future Cycle educate our children about the school’s new recycling program.  I was excited and inspired by the potential positive impact our children and families could have on our local environment.

I always considered our family fairly environmentally conscious but I didn’t realize how huge of an impact our family could have by making a few more small changes at home.After participating in the launch of the new recycling program at school, our family stopped buying paper towels, paper napkins, plastic wrap, and resealable plastic w610_fc-assorted2 bags.  We now use only cloths and reusable glass and plastic food storage containers.  We have also bumped up our contributions to our backyard compost pile and paid even more attention to what we can recycle curbside here in White Plains.  We are hoping that other families have been inspired as well and that together we can be a part of the solution.

We Future Cycle Trains Rye Midland Elementary School Incoming K-Students To Recycle

Midland Elementary School in Rye began its second year of the We Future Cycle sorting, recycling and composting program. We Future Cycle was happy to return to Midland this Fall to help teach the incoming kindergartners to sort their lunch waste.

Since kicking off the program in February 2016, Midland has diverted nearly 10 TONS of recyclable and compostable material from the trash based on their 97% rate in trash reduction. The benefits of proper source separation add up so quickly, contributing to an enormous positive impact on our environment.
Midland continues to have great support from the PTO, which has helped to keep this program on track by organizing many parents to monitor the process at lunch in the first few “back to school” weeks. The support from Principal Jim Boylan, Assistant Principal Joanna Napolitano, and the Midland aides and custodial team has also been invaluable to sustain the enthusiasm and smooth operations in the lunchroom.  Their efforts provide continuity by insuring that all students remember how to sort and the importance of reducing their waste.