Tag Archives: plastic

White Plains Church St Elementary School Students Compost Healthy Snack Waste

3ba6684d-abfe-412a-923e-0d5c14d498b8Students from K through 2nd Grade are carefully walking the blue classroom compost pail to the school courtyard that houses a lovely learning garden, a greenhouse with the first projects budding and a nice compost tumbler.

Church St Elementary School adopted the We Future Cycle recycling program in October of 2015 and has decreased its lunchroom waste by a whopping 98%, sorting out all recyclable and compostable materials. In the classrooms the students are diligently sorting out all paper and commingled into the correct bins, leaving very little for the trash can.

Now, under the leadership of Principal Castillo and Assistant Principal Jackson, the school is solving another problem. Mid morning snack!

Students were presented with common snack packaging materials and asked if they thought it was healthy for them. They all knew that chips, cookies, caramelized popcorn and traditionally single served packaged snacks were not healthy for them. One child explained to me: ” Chips are not food, they are just snack”

We Future Cycle presenters went into all kindergarten through 2nd grade classes and helped students make a very important connection. We eat to stay healthy, the foods we eat should be healthy to keep our body healthy, and foods that come directly from the Earth are healthy and naturally without packaging material. Church St students realized that their choice of snack can help their body and their Earth to stay healthy.

Students that bring their snack in reusable containers and are waste free receive a paper leaf, write their name on it, and then paste it to the Waste Free Tree outside the cafeteria. Check out this leaf sprouting tree! DSCN2821

Healthy food waste will make Church St’s garden grow. Two green children from each class are carefully placing all apple cores and banana peels into the composter and over time get to see close up the wonders of decomposition. DSCN2817

 

School Waste Audits Show Change Is Very Possible

As Sustainability Coordinator and Waste Management Consultant for schools, I am always counting and weighing garbage bags, mostly under the watchful eyes of head custodians that are highly skeptical of being asked to institute a “recycling program”. Sometimes with the help of the students, sometimes without.

The general notion in schools is that when there is a blue bin somewhere, then there is a recycling program. Upon being asked how much commingled they are actually pulling out of the building to be recycled, I am often met with a lengthy explanation on why the material is so contaminated that they have to discard it as trash.

The prevalence is still that ” It is all garbage to me” and ” I don’t have time to recycle”.

That is where We Future Cycle, a non profit organization specialized on large scale sustainability programs comes in.

The mere fact that I come in and count and weigh the garbage puts a value on garbage, which was not there before. Custodial staff usually does not think of the cost associated with garbage, but being told just how much their school generates creates already an awareness.

Schools being supported by We Future Cycle are usually audited before any recycling program component is implemented, and then after each component comes on line, and then periodically to make sure things are still on tracks.

We have seen dramatic reductions from 277 lbs from lunch alone down to 3.5 lbs and 187 lbs from night clean down to 21 lbs.

Showing reduction results from other schools with similar number of students is first met with high degree of skepticism, but once they see me standing on a scale, holding a bulging dripping back of garbage to weigh it, they know, that School Waste Audits show that change is very possible.

Mamaroneck Middle School On WCBS Radio

WCBS Newsradio 880 is one of America’s most listened-to radio stations providing news and information on the AM dial in New York for 45 years.  “Traffic and Weather Together on the 8s” has been a mainstay with New York commuters for decades. With one of the largest, most veteran local news staffs in the country, WCBS provides coverage of breaking news, local news, business, sports and entertainment. WCBS 880 provides a 24 hour news stream via CBS New York.com.

Veteran Reporter Sean Adams came to Hommocks Middle School to interview Dr. Robert Shaps, Superintendent of Schools in Larchmont and Mamaroneck about the newly placed Rocket Composter. We Future Cycle Executive Director Anna Giordano explained that the benefits of the Rocket go beyond the 55% of food waste composted on site, as the program also allowed to sort other recyclable items out of the waste stream, bringing the school to a whopping 86% reduction in waste.

Stories From Main Street: Students Learn Valuable Lessons About Environment In Mamaroneck

mamaroneck rocket

 

Zero Waste! A Reality at the German International School White Plains

roll out 1We knew from the get go, that the German International School in White Plains would not have much garbage, as it is a cafeteria with all washable plates, but even we were floored when after 450 students plus staff going through the line, we only looked upon 2 (two !) single serve wrappers and a wipe as trash. T H A T   W A S  I T ! 2 Wrappers!

We, at We Future Cycle are used to a 98% reduction of waste through source separation, so something like 400 lbs down to 8 lbs, but that 8 lbs is usually a bulging kitchen size bag full of single serve chip bags, wrappers, juice pouches, snack wrap, plastic baggies and things of the sort.  But 2 wrappers and a wipe were all that stared us in the face after opening the , already miniature sized bathroom type, trash can that was placed in the lunchroom.

roll out 6And talk about the students instantly learning what it means to put their food waste into compost and not -as before- in trash. In classroom and auditorium presentations all grades, from Pre-K through 11 were acquainted with societies biggest problem. Trash!

Making recycling interesting to elementary school students is easy, all you have to do is show them a turtle that is eating a plastic bag and they are fired up to save the world.

Going up the grades and it becomes increasingly difficult to make middle school and high school students excited about recycling, however they all were super interested. Learning about the foot print of Aluminium foil, or that islands 2000 miles away from the closest civilization are clogged up with garbage was an eye opener to these private scholars, that may have not had to make their own beds yet.

The result was immediately visible, total buy in from the entire building population. We Future Cycle is looking forward to doing a building wide audit to see how the building portion of the program works. Judging by the lunchroom, the German International School is very close to making Zero Waste a reality.

857 plastic bags per minute used in Westchester alone

DSCN2265This it what 857 plastic bags look like, strung up on a clothes line, and spread out to make a powerful statement. It is truly a mind boggling amount. It took 7 children two lunch periods to string them all up.

DSCN2284New Rochelle Columbus students are learning just HOW bad plastic bags are for our environment and how the small effort of bringing your own bag to the grocery store can make a huge difference.

In powerful essays, these students laid out just how easy it is to solve this problem, just bring your own bags.

 

New Rochelle Columbus Students On the Big Screen

c015385b-7b1d-45de-9b62-307f4f56a45eNew Rochelle Columbus Elementary School celebrated its Red Carpet Affair on Thursday evening. Students walked on a red carpet, donned in their finest to the auditorium to see themselves on the big screen.

Columbus Students were filmed as part of a documentary about how introduction of sustainability education can change a community. A film crew came in to capture the students doing a waste audit and filming the unbelievable amounts of waste generated in a school without recycling. And the film crew followed the students on their journey to learn to sort their waste in the lunchroom, all the way to the celebration to show case that Columbus reduced its garbage from 400 lbs to just 8 lbs, a 98% reduction, through diversion into recycling and composting. Students shared what they learned and how they will continue to make a difference.

9f151755-49ee-438e-8fe6-9bde62110180Just like at the Oscar’s the “actors” were interviewed to share their thoughts. Proud students were either the interviewer or the interviewee, asking questions about what the students have learned from the on-going recycling program in their lunchroom, how their parents made differences in their households, now that the students learned about recycling. The answers were heartfelt and sincere. Clearly, Columbus students know that their actions count and each and every one can make a difference.

The lobby was filled with educational displays on how to make a waste free lunch and the PTA was offering reusable sandwich boxes, waterbottles, and shopping bags for sale.

Principal Sonia Nunez welcomed everybody warmly to the auditorium, thanked especially the green students who are unwavering in their support of the lunchroom station and explained to the parents how this documentary came about. And then lights were dimmed and the show began.

New Rochelle’s Jefferson Elementary School down to 1.2% Garbage

3 lbs of trash, all the rest goes into compost or recyclingThis is what 254 lbs of lunchroom waste look like, and — believe it or not—- only 3 lbs of it, was actually trash. Everything else is being fed into food waste composting and recycling.  72 lbs went as left over liquid down the drain, and the students sorted 15.5 lbs of untouched food out to donate to the local soup kitchen.

That is a whopping 98.8% reduction.  Seriously …. way to go.

Jefferson Elementary School under the leadership of Kim Nieves and LeAnn Bruno has always been on New Rochelle’s forefront to bring sustainability to their students.

Already in 2011, when the We Future Cycle Recycling program was in its infancy and New Rochelle was still serving its students on Styrofoam trays, Ms Nieves and Ms Bruno knew that making the students partners and teaching them to care and sort is a life long skill.

Fortunately, after a 5 year battle, Styrofoam is permanently off the menu in New Rochelle and We Future Cycle gives full credit for this to Jeff White, Assistant Superintendent of Business. Mr White, being new to the district, saw immediately the incredible social, educational and environmental value that the program offers to the children and understood that serving our young ones on a material that contains Styrene, a chemical that has recently been classified as “reasonably anticipated human carcinogen” was inappropriate, no matter how much less expensive it might be.

Jefferson adjusted its program to follow We Future Cycle’s guidelines, so all New Rochelle schools are set up exactly the same.  We Future Cycle is enjoying working with Jefferson’s enthusiastic recyclers. There is nothing as rewarding as having a kindergarten student hug your leg and say thank you for teaching her to recycle.

 

 

 

Planting A Trash Garden, Hands on Teaching about Decomposition

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Cutting up fruits and vegetables, hunting for seeds

Even  a 3 year old knows that a wrapper flying through the air on the street is not suppose to be there. When asked if that wrapper ever goes away, the little boy stopped to think a bit and then came  a timid “no” ,  with a question mark at the end. Talking about “away” is a common topic at the Little Leaf Nursery School in Hastings these days and the students are learning.

Just recently We Future Cycle introduced  recycling and composting  and the students are now seasoned recyclers, knowing where materials go and where the food waste goes. They all reported that they feed the tumbler and they help tumbling.

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Learning about seeds, what can grow  and decomposition while making a trash garden

To bring decomposition even closer, we created a trash garden with the students today. We cut up some fruits and vegetables, looked at the seeds and planted them together with strips of aluminum foil, corners of paper, a hard plastic bottle cap, some soft plastic wrappers and some cut up fruit and veggie peel.

The students learned about prediction and we tried to predict what would grow from the things we just planted.  We will now keep our “trash garden” nicely watered and observe the changes.

 

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.

 

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.