We Future Cycle is proud to be featured on FiOS 1 News by reporter Christina Chiarelli, who was on site at Hastings’ Hillside Elementary School. Ms. Chiarelli spoke with the school’s head custodian, George Giannone, aide Kim Osborne, and many students about how the program has dramatically reduced lunchroom waste.
As well, interviews with the students’ demonstrated how much they have learned about recycling from participating in the program! Hands-on recycling and composting give kids a tangible understanding of how their actions have an impact on the environment.
Watch the broadcast by clicking here or on the image below:
Sean Adams of WCBS radio recently covered the We Future Cycle implementation at Hastings-on-Hudson schools, featuring We Future Cycle founder Anna Giordano, Hastings’ Hillside Elementary School Assistant Principal Farid Johnson, Facilities Director George Prine, and Food Service Director Alan Levin.
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.
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 projectthat takes active management and professional support.
It cannot be accomplished by just putting out some bins…..
Hastings-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.
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.
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.