Tag Archives: schoollunchrecycling

Environmental Goals for Westchester in 2015, let’s do this!

With 2014 being such an incredible year we are looking forward to 2015 and the positive change it can bring to Westchester schools.

My personal wish list for 2015 is

1. Implementing We Future Cycle’s School Lunch and Building-Wide Recycling and Composting Program to 10 More School Districts in 2015, even if it is just in one pilot school per district. Implementing these programs is very do-able, but working with experts is critical to ensure a successful implementation. Results will speak for themselves and that will hopefully lead to district-wide implementation in many Westchester School districts.

Just imagine, if one school reduces its garbage from 22 bags per day down to less then 1/4 bag per day, what kind of impact this will have if 10 more districts will join the program. And just imagine all those students going back home to their parents and sharing their enthusiasm to save the world.

2. Creating the First Leaf and Food-Waste Composting Site in Westchester. So far, only very few communities are composting their leaves, most are trucking them to Rockland County at great expense in fossil fuel consumption, labor and heavy equipment on our streets. So far, no community is doing larger scale, organized food waste composting instead nature’s valuable resource is treated as trash, plastic bagged and burnt. The good news is that several communities are now studying how to solve this problem. We are proud to be on the forefront with them.

3. Integrating Sustainability Education into Curriculum. We have done numerous environmental projects with individual schools such as green writing contests, waste free snack education, TerraCycle Ambassador programs, kindergarten recycling sorting games and it shows again and again, that when students are made aware early of their personal ability to create environmental change, that the ripple effect through the community is amazing.


Setting Up A Recycling Program…..ha, how difficult can that possibly be?

unnamed (1)As Sustainability Consultants we often run into the attitude that setting up a recycling program is nothing but putting out some bins and ….voila….. all is well.

The reality is a far stretch from it. Changing behavior is a complex problem that takes much outside pushing and delicate prodding as well as proper set up of logistics and safe guards to avoid falling back into old behavioral patterns.

Its human nature.

Just look at systems such as wanting to loose weight. Every person that wants to loose weight KNOWS that it has to do with what they eat and how much/little they exercise.   Some people then make valiant efforts to change and the weight loss industry is making billions in the process, but only very few sustain to the desired effect, unless they have prolonged support from an outside person.

The same problem exists in regards to changing to sustainable habits in institutions. Implementing a recycling program such as We Future Cycle offers looks so easy, so logical, surely the institutional director of facilities can do it all by himself?

How difficult can it possibly be?

Same as with weight loss, how difficult can it possibly be to eat less and to exercise more on a regular basis?

The truth is, unless there is a person or organization in place that constantly supports the program and keeps all players engaged over an extended period of time, no behavioral change takes place.

And the losers in the system are the children.

The children had just learned the value of recycling, they were excited and actively engaged in saving the world, but then they see the adults loosing interest…..

Why are we teaching our children that inconsistency is acceptable?

Setting up a successful recycling program with sustainability education is very difficult and it can only be accomplished with the understanding that it is a long term capital improvement project that takes active management and professional support.

It cannot be accomplished by just putting out some bins…..

Hastings-on-Hudson Schools to Implement School Lunch Recycling Program

Recycle Garbage to GardenHastings-on-Hudson is implementing the School Lunch Recycling Program.

We Future Cycle is going to do all the preparation and set up during the summer and by September Hastings students will come back to school to fully  streamed buildings.

Each lunchroom will have a Recycling station and students will learn to separate their waste into “Commingled” “Compostable” and ” Terracycle” categories. From the current 17 bags of loose mixed garbage, Hastings will be down to less then 1/4 bag coming out of the lunchroom, all the rest will fit into the above categories. 65% of what comes out of the lunchroom is compostable.

Waste Management costs are projected to be cut in half by this measure and the school district will see a drastic decrease in use of plastic bags, a considerable expense often overlooked. Mayor Swiderski of Hastings-on-Hudson is very pleased to have this environmentally sound shift in the schools coincide with the  upcoming Plastic bag and PolyStyrene ban in October of 2014.

NYC District 3 Green Schools: How 6 People Changed the Way Mighty NYC Looks at Trash

People often wonder what they, as individuals, can really do to help the environment and to create change. Most give up soon after formulating the thought, because they think, there is nothing they can do. But they are so WRONG.

We were treated yesterday at the Greenburgh Nature Center  to a fabulous presentation about how 6 caring individuals from NYC schools made a HUGE difference. They started a composting pilot in 2012 in 8 NYC public schools – a pilot that wound up being adopted by the City in September 2012 and expanded to – currently – over 450 schools, with plans to eventually expand to all 1,800 NYC public schools.

And that -of course- is sending a shock wave through the country. Suddenly other school districts are waking up to the fact that the waste they create in the schools, their usage of EPS trays, because they are “cheap” is not longer acceptable. If the largest school district can make changes, so can……..no….must they.

Emily Fano of D3 Green Schools
Emily Fano of D3 Green Schools

These parents started in 2009  by meeting monthly with a “green support group” of sorts called the District 3 Green Schools Group.  (Check them out at greenschoolsny.com)  At the meetings they shared strategies for starting classroom and cafeteria recycling programs, energy conservation programs, fundraising by selling  waste-free lunch products, and school gardens and rooftop greenhouses.  Several of the D3 schools had PTA funded compostable trays to replace the DOE-issued Styrofoam trays because of concerns the trays leached toxic chemicals into the food and because of the disposal nightmare they cause.  This was what started their focus on trying to figure out how to compost the trays, which later developed into the tray and food waste pilot of 2012.

The school lunch recycling program, started parallel in New Rochelle in 2010 is also gaining traction fast in Westchester, however to take it to the level that the NYC D3 parents have managed, it will take high level administrative support.

Right now the program is in 7 school districts with a total of 22 schools, To make this program work, many moving parts have to be adjusted. But it all starts with a single engaged person!

So, every one of us can make a difference. Who knows what river YOU will be creating.

Thank you Emily Fano, Lisa Maller and Jennifer Prescott for sharing your story with us.



New Rochelle Trinity Students Honored at Green Writing Contest Celebration


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe auditorium at New Rochelle’s Trinity Elementary school was filled with 3rd, 4th and 5th graders today and they were so quiet that one could hear a pin drop.  At 9:30 am Assistant Principal Inas Morsi Hogans and Principal  DiCarlo welcomed Ms Jean Chin and Ms Irene Schindler to their school for the first Green Writing Contest Celebration in Honor of Nina Chin.

Nina Chin was a teacher in whose honor the family is giving a grant to one school per year to host a Green Writing Contest. Anna Giordano was honored to be chosen as administrator for this grant.

Ms Jean Chin shared with the students the story of her mother and how Nina Chin has tried to always make a difference and had offered writing contest prizes from her own money for decades to encourage her students to be high achievers.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Trinity school has shown exemplary efforts to reduce its footprint with consistent recycling in the lunchroom and was chosen as awarded school.

26 students rose to the challenge of writing an essay or poem to the topic ” I can make a difference”. The entries were judged by three independent judges and they shared with me afterwards that there was a wealth of lovely entries and it was a really hard choice as to who would snag the coveted cash prizes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

7 students were awarded a  cash prize and every participant got a certificate and a hug from Ms Schindler, who is a published author, a  national prize winner for many writing contests, with over 70 (!) years of teaching experience.  She spoke to the children about winning a Chevrolet Bel Air at some point, and audible gasps of surprise came from the adults in the room.

Ms Morsi Hogans read excerpts from a few essays and it was very powerful to hear their words and their commitment on how each and every single one wants to make a difference.  All parents were clutching a tissue, it was very moving.

A lovely and inspiring celebration.


Yonkers considering Styrofoam ban and School Lunch Recycling Program

Last night We Future Cycle had the opportunity to present the school lunch recycling program to the City Council of Yonkers.


Yonkers is the fourth most populous city in New York State with 24,000 students in 39 schools. All schools are using exclusively EPS (Styrofoam) disposable trays.  Which means every school is producing depending on size between 15 – 30 bags of garbage per lunch.

Every. School.  Every. Single. Day.


Councilman Michael Sabatino is trying to change that. He has proposed to eliminate all single use food Styrofoam items over the next two years.  A wonderful proposal.

The School Lunch Recycling Program offered by We Future Cycle changes the way schools organize lunch. Instead of teaching the kids to “just throw it out”, students are taught to empty extra liquids into a bucket and sort their drink container, then students empty their left over food into the compost bucket and stack their tray. Simple. Continue reading Yonkers considering Styrofoam ban and School Lunch Recycling Program

New Rochelle Elementary School Reduces Garbage to 2 Handful Through Recycling


The Daniel Webster Elementary School in New Rochelle rolled out the School Lunch Recycling Program.  This school has 600+ kids and generated around 13 bags of loosely mixed garbage.


Principal Melissa Passarelli and Assistant Principal Greg Middleton are big supporters of environmental change and have volunteered to be one of the New Rochelle pilot schools to help pave the way for a general roll out in September to all remaining schools.

The program is simple. Teach children to sort their lunchroom waste into different recyclable categories.

The center aisle is now  sporting a station lining up first a bucket to dispose all left over liquids, a bin for milk cartons, a bin for Commingled Recycling, a Compost bucket and a place to stack trays.


The students learned in class about this program and were eager to put their knowledge to the test. A lunchroom monitor helped the kids along during the learning phase and soon she will be able to take a back seat and enjoy the show of children sorting for the environment. As the kids become more and more on auto pilot when it comes to sorting, we will introduce more education around the environment.

The key to the program is adult supervision, and Dr Korostoff, Superintendent of schools authorized the additional hourly help to make this change happen.

Continue reading New Rochelle Elementary School Reduces Garbage to 2 Handful Through Recycling

Thanks to Counterspace, “School Lunch Recycling” is now “We Future Cycle!”

After 4 years of operation under founder Anna Giordano, the “School Lunch Recycling” organization had become so much more.  The program now included composting in its school lunch offering, and the Waste Free Classroom program had taken off.  As well, Anna was joined by partner Ashley Welde, who brought communications and technical expertise to the mix.  With a much broader vision and ambitions goals, the organization demanded a new name and identity.

Anna and Ashley met with designing and branding visionaries Christina Collins and Brett Collins from Counterspace to come up with a new name and logo.  Within minutes, the name “We Future Cycle” was born, and the logo shortly followed.  We are so grateful to Christina, Brett, and the whole Counterspace team for donating their time and wisdom to We Future Cycle.  Thank you!

New Rochelle Elementary School Sorts Out Compost, Recycling, Garbage reduced from 22 bags down to less then 1/4 bag

New Rochelle’s Trinity Elementary school is the first school in the District to sort out all compostable and recyclable items from the lunchroom. The results were simply amazing. Dr Korostoff, New Rochelle’s superintendent, is personally overlooking and supporting its implementation.

New Rochelle’s food service provider Whitson has been very helpful in eliminating items from the lunchroom that were problematic to sort.

The We Future Cycle school lunch recycling program is very simple, the children empty their left over drinks into a bucket, then sort the drink container, they empty their left over food into the compost and they stack their trays. Any untouched food items go into the share basket, any extra plastic goes with the plastics. Done!


The only thing left in the regular trash are very soiled plastic bags, ripped chip bags or yogurt pouches. That is IT! Continue reading New Rochelle Elementary School Sorts Out Compost, Recycling, Garbage reduced from 22 bags down to less then 1/4 bag