Tag Archives: newrochelleschooldistrict

We Future Cycle Brings E-Waste Recycling Education to Schools to Improve Dismal 3% Cell Phone Recycling Rate

1 billion cell phones were produced in 2015, with a growth rate of 14% annually. A shocking number especially looking at the dismal recycling rate of 3%.

We Future Cycle is bringing E-Waste Recycling Education to Middle Schools in New Rochelle as part of the Science curriculum. Students were asked to raise one hand if they owned a cell phone, and both hands if they had changed their cell phone in the past 18 months. Every single student raised both hands!

Every cell phone contains valuable metals such as copper, tin, silver, gold, cobalt, nickel, aluminum and lithium, not to mention the rare earth minerals like Neodymium, Yttrium, Terbium, Cerium and Europium. Without these metals, there would be no handy device.

Students learned about mining techniques and the unbelievable environmental destruction that goes hand in hand with mining in countries with little or no environmental oversight.

Touching upon child labor in African cobalt mines, learning about mercury contamination in the Amazon while mining for gold and seeing pictures of nickel mines in Mozambique was hard for students. They recoiled in their chairs and some even pushed their ever present phone on their desk to the far corner.

Peru-Gold-Mining-AsnerConnecting students to the origin of the devices they are using is the basis for them to become global citizens and to become engaged in responsible practices.

Students learned about the dismal recycling rate of only 3%, and they all admitted that they have drawers full of antiquated devices not knowing what to do with them.

New York State now requires all consumers to recycle e-waste in a responsible manner. It is against the law to discard a broken computer in the trash. Cell phones however are so small that it is easy to slip into the kitchen trash, but consumers are literally discarding gold!.

According to the EPA : 1 million cell phones contain 75 lbs of gold, 33 lbs of palladium, 35,274 lbs of copper and 772 lbs of silver, just to name a few. 

Recycling metals reduces its environmental foot print by a whopping 90-95%

Recycling cell phones is easy! Just drop them off at any retailer, they are by law required to take them back at no charge. To protect your privacy, take the SIM and other memory chip out and cut it in half.

 

 

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New Rochelle ALMS Students Learn What Happens When They Flush “gasp”

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Learning about Waste Water Filtering

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!

 

New Rochelle Trinity Students Prove To Be Life Long Learners

20170531_102026 (2)New Rochelle Trinity Elementary School is a shining example on how teaching students young creates life long behavior changes. Two years ago, We Future Cycle introduced the Waste Free Snack program to the school. All students went through class by class presentations about how to reduce packaging waste from snack in the classrooms in addition to making healthier snack choices.

Part of the program is that the healthy snack waste like the banana peel or the apple core will NOT go in the trash, but will be brought by the students down to the lunchroom to be combined with the lunch compost.

On my recent visits to Trinity I was reminded again that learning young is the basis for life long learning.

Check out this student very carefully transporting and combining her classrooms healthy snack waste with the compost from the lunchroom.

It gave me goosebumps!

Ball Field Recycling and Litter Mitigation, New Rochelle IEYMS is covering all bases

Any school with a ball field attached can attest to the problems of littering. With hundreds of players and parents coming and going to the fields the accumulated material is staggering.

New Rochelle’s Isaac Young Middle School is working hard to being green everywhere. The school is successfully running the We Future Cycle lunchroom and building recycling program and it has just had a flawless locker clean out day with literally tons of paper being diverted into recycling for the first time.

Dan Gonzales, Assistant Principal and Billy Coleman, head custodian, are the driving forces behind bringing sustainability to every corner of the school.

Isaac Young Middle School was chosen as the pilot school for the new We Future Cycle ball field recycling program. This pilot run is designed to answer the question if students can transfer the learned sorting behavior also to other areas of their life if signage and logistics are clear.

20170531_101134Will newly installed recycling bins with clear signage, next to trash cans, also sporting signage and both are flanked with signage motivate participation?

Well, YES!

20170531_101143Monitoring the recycling bin showed that students put the appropriate items into the recycling bin, without a single contaminant. Room for improvement is that there were materials in the trashcan that should have gone into recycling.

Tackling litter mitigation has so far been …… one guy, one grabber and one large black plastic bag. But no more. We Future Cycle introduced litter separation through a simple ring to keep bags open. It takes no effort to put the bottle into recycling and the chip bag into trash, if the bags are held open.

90% of the litter on the field is recyclable and Isaac Young Middle School is showing that it can be done. Just. Like. That.

 

 

 

 

New Rochelle Trinity 5th Grader Wins Research Essay Contest

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt pays to play! That is something that proud winner Edison Diggs learned in a very rewarding way. He was the winner of the We Future Cycle sponsored Research Essay Contest with the topic “Aluminum Foil: The cost of convenience”

Students learned in a We Future Cycle presentation about the enormous environmental foot print of Aluminum foil and all just so we can wrap our sandwich in it?

Edison Diggs skillfully drew his readers in by asking a simple question:

“Have you ever wondered where that Aluminum foil you use to wrap that lever pizza comes from?” Well, it isn’t made in a lab like you might think, it actually comes from the Earth. Unfortunately, that isn’t good for the Earth in the long term. There are many reasons as to why we shouldn’t use aluminum foil.

Aluminum has to be mind from the Earth, so that means companies have to find somewhere to put the dug up dirt, so they tear down trees to make room for dirt, meaning that the countries that these companies use for mining have torn down some of the crops from the people living there. Also, these companies dig out holes, they remove the top soil, which means that plants will never to grow in that spot again because the companies never clean up what they have done? Why don’t these companies clean up? It makes no sense!

To make aluminum you have to mine for rocks containing Bauxite, but only a small percentage of Bauxite is found in each rock. To find the Bauxite, the rocks go through a series of machines, leaving behind so much toxic rock waste. And what do you think the companies do? They dump it somewhere else! Now for each time these companies mine, they leave at least 2 large patches of land, where plants will never grow again. These companies only care about what goes to their pockets, not their effect on the world.

Because Bauxite has to go through so many machines and has to be transported, we use a lot of energy. Making aluminum uses so much energy that there are power plants made only for aluminum production. Also so much money is used to build these power plants that can be used for many other things like cleaning the mess the companies leave. Using all of this energy in turn produces greenhouse and those gases damage the atmosphere. Why are we still using aluminum foil if it damages our atmosphere and uses so much energy and money? Why should we still use aluminum foil if we know how bad it is for our Earth? The answer is “We shouldn’t” There are so many other Eco friendly solutions to using aluminum foil, like reusable containers. So, think about all of these harmful effects before you wrap that leftover pizza in aluminum foil.

Be good and stop using Aluminum foil!

 

4 other students wrote excellent research papers and received an honorable mentioning. Renee Haywood, Zelda Sill, Guadalupe Zepeda and Elias Rodriguez.

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Locker Clean Out! A Recycling Challenge Mastered by New Rochelle IEYMS

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe annual process of locker clean out entailed until today a line of garbage cans in each hallway, and students just taking armful over armful of stuff out of their lockers to dump. A school of 1500 kids would easily generate 7500 lbs of material, all in over 100 plastic bags. A tremendous cost to the school in terms of man power, bags and carting cost.

New Rochelle’s Isaac E. Middle School tackled this challenge with the help of We Future Cycle. The school has adopted the We Future Cycle recycling program last year and has since diverted 97% of its waste into recycling or composting streams. Students are sorting at breakfast, lunch and in their classroom.

So extending that “new normal” behavior into the hallways during locker clean out was no problem at all. All it took was 3 bins, clearly marked, some directions to the students and some supervision, and voila! 98% of the materials from the lockers were sorted into paper recycling or commingled.

Just. Like. That !

100 bags of trash transformed into 9 brimming full paper recycling toters, 2 toters of commingled and maybe a total of 15 lbs of non recyclables.

Way to go Isaac Young students!

New Rochelle Middle School Students Dig Healthy Soil, literally!

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We Future Cycle recently taught a workshop about food composting to all 6th graders at the Isaac E. Young Middle School.

Before We Future Cycle set up the recycling program in all of New Rochelle schools, students were taught in the lunchroom to “just throw all their garbage out”. And the result were heaps of bulging and dripping bags of garbage every day. Since the implementation, students are sorting their waste into excess liquid, recycling, and composting streams and from the 273 lbs of daily material, only 6.5 lbs are actual trash, whereas 126.5 lbs are food waste and trays that are sent to a commercial composting site in Ulster County.

Students learned what actually happens to their food waste. They learned about the detrimental effect of rotting food in landfills and how it creates methane, a highly toxic, flammable and explosive gas into our air as well as toxic leachate into our ground water.

Students giggled when walked through the decomposition of a banana through their own system, but understood suddenly how it all works. Understanding that the apple tree can only make an apple by using nutrients and water from the ground, these nutrients go into our body when we eat the apple and any left over should go back to the soil, rather than being treated as trash to create methane in the landfill.

Students learned about the magic of taking two things we consider waste ( leaves and food waste) and by combining them and letting nature do its thing, we get black, nutrient rich soil.

As activity, students touched, smelled and observed different soil samples and made determinations as to how plants might like to live in that soil. In the beginning, some kids leaned far away  from the samples put in front of them, but warmed quickly to smelling and touching them, all to say : “oh, it just smells like dirt”.

Yes, hheaderPhoto-learnealthy soil made from food waste and wood chips/leaves. Nature’s magic

Easy to do, all we have to do is sort out our food waste and mix it with woodchips and leaves and after 60 days we have healthy soil. Easy!