Mount Vernon School District recently joined the We Future Cycle program and the trail blazing school was Hamilton Elementary School and under the leadership of Ms Wesolowski, over 500 Hamilton students from K to 6th grade learned all about garbage.
In class by class presentations, students learned that over 90% of their lunch waste is actually either recyclable or compostable, if it was just sorted out.
That alone did not get a lot of reactions from those little guys. It is truly too unwieldy of a concept. But what got their attention big time was when we shared that we can even recycle their left over sandwich.
We usually make a pause to give them a chance to digest that thought.
And then we show them what compost looks like. It is first greeted with some frowns, but upon smelling it, they all proclaim that it smells just like nature. And they are all on board when asked to decide what was better for the world, burning their left over sandwich or making soil out of it.
Students learned about the problems around garbage and that, when we talk about “throwing something away”, there is no “away” on this earth, Big eyes opened when students saw pictures of a landfill, but even bigger eyes when they learned that Westchester County brings its 2500 tons of daily (!) garbage to the incinerator in Peekskill to burn it, creating smoke and pollution.
Most students knew already that bottles and cans were recyclable, but were astonished to find out that all milk cartons, juice boxes, aluminum foil and other hard plastics were also recyclable.
Being in a lunchroom, teaching every single student how to sort properly is quite an experience. But it is so rewarding to see the incredible improvement already on day 2.
Hamilton reduced its garbage from 10 bags of trash weighing 106 lbs down to a mere 6.5 lbs, a 94% reduction.
The very next day, a student shared with me that her mother noticed the drastic reduction of garbage bags out at the curb. Great news!
Hamilton Elementary school is now in the process of creating a green team, empowering students to become agents of green change.