Tag Archives: plastic

Hasting’s Little Leaf Nursery Students Learning About Recycling and they truly get it!

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Circle time sorting materials into recycling bins

Nine adorable 3 year olds were sitting wide eyed on the carpet while helping Anna Giordano from We Future Cycle empty two reusable bags of all sorts of packaging materials onto the carpet.

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Carefully checking material to pictures on label, good job!

They picked up empty soda cans, empty peanut butter jars, empty glass bottles, crumpled aluminum foil, empty can food cans. They checked if one can rip a pizza box, and they crinkled the soft plastic wrapper of cookies.

When asked what all this stuff was, they answered according to what they had in their hand. “A bottle”, “Paper”, “box”.

When you ask elementary school children the same question, the answer will  invariably be “trash”.

By elementary school age, children have learned already what trash is, and they have already been impregnated by the thought that all things they are done with is trash. They heard so many times already “just throw it away” that they have a clear understanding that “away” is a very convenient spot for unwanted things.

 

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sorting aluminum foil with commingled

These nursery school children were so excited about that a bottle can,  just like Lego, be a building  block for something else again.  They immediately grasped the concept that if you sort things in the right bin, you can use it again.  With gusto they helped to sort items into the commingled or the paper recycling bin, and they asked to do it again. They learned to identify between hard and soft plastic and they learned that aluminum foil is metal.  They can pick out paper and cardboard, and they learned with sadness that little plastic baggies are not recyclable again, but really trash.

Theresa McCaffrey, owner of Little Leaf Nursery school is very focused on teaching her students about nature. The multi-age nursery school is located within Andrus-on-Hudson, a senior residential community, and it’s 25 acres are the children’s living classroom. Little Leaf at Andrus On Hudson is in Hastings 185 Old Broadway, Hastings-On-Hudson, NY 10706. Gorgeous. There is a garden, a mud kitchen for the kids, and all kinds of outdoor activities. Daily routine is a nature walk, come rain or shine and these kids are suited up in rain gear and are running around with huge smiles on their tiny faces. They do activities with self collected acorns, they have communal snack on washable plates and bowls, all organic, non processed foods, heavy on fresh fruits and vegetables. You will find no sugary juice boxes or processed lunchables here.  A fabulous place!

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Food waste goes into the new froggie bin
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filling leaves into the tumbler

And now, the students are also learning about the cycle of food waste into compost. We Future Cycle set up a compost tumbler and the students are now sorting their clementine peel into a cute froggie shaped bin and are proudly taking turns to bring the bin to the composter, mixing in the browns with the greens, and then tumble.

Under the guidance of Ms Caffrey and her two amazing assistants, Little Leaf students are already making a difference in this world.  Way to go!

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.

 

 

 

 

Tackling Food Waste In School District Lunchrooms To Make A Difference

IMG_0284This is completely untouched food from just one lunch period in one school.

Before schools implemented the We Future Cycle Recycling program, this untouched food went unnoticed right into the garbage can.

unnamed (2)However, now as additional benefit to source separating in the lunchroom this food is sorted into a share basket, ready to be  consumed by either other children within the school during lunch, afterschool program or while being at the nurses office, or donating it to a local soup kitchen. Both is legal, safe and infinitely preferred over just trashing it.

We Future Cycle is often met with resistance when suggesting to donate the sorted out food. Standard practice in the school cafeterias is that if the milk runs out of date over the weekend, instead of donating it on Friday, it is being tossed on Monday, packaging at all.

Arguments given are that food service does not want to be liable should someone get sick when consuming donated food, or that it is illegal to donate tax payer sponsored food, or that it is too much work to organize the logistics around food donation.

As a matter of fact, it is not only legal, but also encouraged to donate the food. The Good Samaritan Act  holds any donor harmless and We Future Cycle will pair the school up with the closest local, health department vetted soup kitchen, that will come and pick up right after lunch. A complete Win Win situation for all parties.

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And think about the social lesson to the children if they are involved in the process.

However, the best way to avoid untouched food waste is to teach the children (and their parents) about choices and how to refuse when they do not intend to consume a food item.

In the lunchrooms we see so many children dumping the lovingly made sandwich from mom right into compost, without ever taking a bite out of it. And off they go to stand in line at the snack desk to buy chips and ice cream.

I am sure there is a better way. Let’s tackle it to make a difference.

 

 

White Plains Church St Elementary School Nearly At Zero Waste

White Plains Church St Elementary School under the leadership of Principal Myra Castillo and Assistant Principal Merle Jackson have reached nearly Zero Waste  with only 3 lbs of trash from nearly 700 students in the lunchroom.  Outstanding!

Ms Castillo knew that this program can only work if all departments work together for a common goal. She allowed time for food service, facilities, teachers and teachers aids to be trained on why the We Future Cycle recycling program is so valuable for the social development of the students.

And both Ms Castillo and Ms Jackson are putting their money where their mouth is and are actively participating in teaching the students on how to sort.

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33 lbs of compostable trays sorted out

The system is easy. First the students empty their left over liquids into the bucket, sorting the container into either milk cartons or commingled, then all remaining plastic is sorted into commingled, all food waste and paper products are dumped into compost and the tray is stacked neatly. Done.

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42.5 lbs of compostable food waste

Church St had a whopping 76 lbs of excess liquid, a large bag of commingled, 2 large bags of milk cartons, 75.5 lbs of compostable material and only 3 lbs of trash, that is 1.7%. Nearly Zero Waste!

6 students helped with the weighing and counting. Thank you

Only the students that bring lunch from home in disposable packaging are contributing to trash. Non recyclable are chip bags, drink pouches, soft plastic wrappers, sandwich baggies, go go squeeze packaging and things along those lines. Next steps will be to actively involve parents to be part of the zero waste solution.

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Smiling head custodian Jody Raynor helping students sort

A huge shout out to Head Custodian Jody Raynor, whose support in this program is invaluable. He is being called  ” Mr Smiles” by the students.  Trust me, I am not making this up.  He does smile all the time, while helping the students to sort. Truly WAY TO GO!

Church St Elementary School is a prime example on how support by all departments can lead to something as fabulous as nearly zero waste.

 

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.

White Plains Church St Students are learning about “away”

When you say ” I am throwing something away” , where is “away”?

That is a question  students at Church St Elementary school learned the answer to. And they didn’t like it, not one bit.

Looking at pictures of land fills and incinerators brought even the littlest students to a open mouthed gasp.  November 6th 2015 was launch date of the We Future Cycle Recycling program at Church St and it started with assemblies to all students in the auditorium. In a lively presentation, students learned to look differently at packaging material. What they first considered trash, they saw later as raw material for new things, the premise of recycling.  What they first saw as a yummy snack, they later saw as food that created trash because of its unrecyclable packaging.  They also learned just how much garbage is generated at a school, something they had never thought of before. And they learned, that most of what they generate can be recycled if it was just sorted out. Now they are chomping at the bit to start sorting.

DSCN19056 Safety Squat students were chosen to assist with the “before recycling” waste audit. They stood open mouthed in front of the 15 bags of bulging trash. They weighed each bag, we calculated totals, looked at median bag weights, offered suggestions why some bags were much heavier then others, while not being necessarily more bulky.  Suggestions included that the bags may have come from younger students as there was more heavy food and more left over liquid in these bags.

Church St generated that day 15 bags of trash, weighing a total of 204 lbs. Anna Giordano, from We Future Cycle, asked the students to imagine what a ton of garbage looked like. Step by step, the students worked to identify that 200  of their own lunchroom bags would equal 2000 lbs. Upon learning that Westchester Ct generates more then 2300 tons of garbage per day, one boy sadly commented “and that is just Westchester”. A very mature deduction from a 5th grader.

From Monday Nov 9th, Church St students will be separating their lunchroom waste into waste liquid, milk cartons, commingled and food waste and the students are looking forward to diverting an estimated 90% away from trash and into recycling.

Church St is all geared up to make a difference. Way to go!

 

 

 

Hastings: Astonishing First Year Results from We Future Cycle Program

IMG_0258Can you imagine 110 times the amount of garbage as in this picture? Well, this is what Hastings-on-Hudson school district has not generated in the past year thanks the robust We Future Cycle recycling program it adopted last year. About 22 tons.

Thanks to the endless energy and support of Maureen Carabello, Treasurer, as well as the two head custodians in the elementary school and the middle/high school Hastings can look proudly upon major accomplishments.

Both buildings reduced their garbage so significantly that they reduced the number of dumpster by 50% and were able to renegotiate a $2000.00 reduction in their pick up cost.

Custodial staff was also able to reduce their plastic bag usage and purchases by 50% which is an expense often overlooked.

Truly an astonishing first year results. Hats off to Hastings-on-Hudson.

Waste Management in Germany, 87% recycling rate

3,w=650,c=0.bildIn Germany, Source Separation is old news, everybody does it . And I mean

E V E R Y  B O D Y!

It is working because Germany applied country wide the same strategy.  German households, and buildings are all set up the same way. Everybody is sorting food waste into the  brown “BioTonne”, Paper into the “Blue Bin” , all packaging into the “Yellow Bin” and then there is the black bin for left over garbage.

The pick up schedule is set up to reward recycling and to penalize garbage. Country wide food waste pick up takes place once per week, Paper and Packaging Materials are alternating once per week and the left over garbage is only picked up once per month. Each bin has a bar code and is read at point of pick up. The cost per consumer is calculated by weight whereas food waste and recycling has a very low per pound fee, and remaining garbage a very high per pound fee.

The keys to success were

1.  consistent signage, consistent colors of bins

2. supervision at point of collection (oops stickers, and ultimately fines for non compliance)

3. pay per throw via bar code,  per pound cost differentiated by material.

4. Bio Digesters for food waste management .

The results are just amazing.

KSzectF (1)In Numbers:  Germany generates some 50 million tons of waste per year from its 82.5 million people.  87% of that waste is recycled through household and industrial source separation.

Construction debris is only accepted source separated to particular standards.

Grocery stores are required to offer disposal of hard to recycle materials and with that came a revolution in packaging, as suddenly the point of sale was responsible for what it put on its shelves.

There are no active landfills in Germany, a few incinerators are dealing with the remaining 13% of left over garbage.  Italy is sending its trash to Germany for incineration, and Germany is actually harvesting that trash from its recyclables before sending it to the incinerator.

And the absolute best is, that it is now cost efficient to harvest old landfills, which is starting to happen in several areas all over Germany.

A true example of what can be possible if everybody is seeing the greater good, rather then the quick buck for some selected few.

Mamaroneck’s Hommocks Middle School to Join the We Future Cycle Program

Under the decisive leadership of Hommocks Middleschool Principal Dr Seth Weitzman, students will be learning hands on about sustainability. Dr Weitzman asked We Future Cycle to help with the implementation of the lunchroom as well as the building wide recycling program.

Representatives from PTA, teachers and staff took part in a meeting today to shape this upcoming environmental as well as social initiative. Dr Weitzman has been planning this well, writing and recently receiving a grant from the Mamaroneck Education Foundation to cover the cost.

Over the summer, plans will be put into place and come September 1st,  Hommocks students are going to make a big difference. According to their head custodian, the school is generating 31 bags of garbage at lunch as well as 20 bags from night clean. We expect that 90-95 percent of that can be diverted into recycling and composting.

We Future Cycle is excited to be working with Hommocks.

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!