Getting down to grab a misplaced yogurt cup out of the compost bin is not for the faint hearted, but it is essential for the success of the We Future Cycle recycling program.
This program teaches students to sort their lunchroom waste into excess liquids, recyclables, compostables and untouched food. And low and behold, only 2-5% of the initial amount is actually trash.
White Plains George Washington Elementary School Head Custodian Darrel Kidd supports the program 100%. He says, it makes his life much easier because now, he does not have to bring a single bag of garbage out until the very end of lunch, when he cleans up the station. And then he casually slings the 6 lbs bag over his pinky finger. Because 6 lbs of trash is all that comes out of the school of 630 students. Down from 235 lbs, a 98% reduction.
Biggest challenges in each school is crowd control so that the kids are not falling over each other while recycling at the station. Mr Kidd is the master of untangling traffic jams at the station, he supervises that nothing but food and paper goes into the compost bin all the while keeping the kids in the flow.
Ownership of the program within the school is the key to success and the custodial staff of White Plains GW school is owning this program for good! Way to go.
At We Future Cycle one of the biggest challenges we see with lunchroom waste is the plastic baggies kids bring from home. We are able to compost and recycle 95% of lunchroom waste, and the remaining 5% is plastic bags and chip bags that go into the trash.
It’s easy to eliminate this waste, however, if lunches are packed in reusable plastic containers (i.e., Tupperware) or in one of the handy reusable wraps and containers shown in this video! Teach your child to be responsible for waste by packing his or her lunch in a reusable container. Be the leader in changing wasteful lunch-packing habits!
According to a new study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, students with 20 minutes or fewer to eat at lunchtime rarely finish their meal and make unhealthier food choices.
While most elementary school children have about 30 minute lunch periods in the U.S., some spend much of their lunch period standing in line waiting to get their lunch. We often see students come to the source separation station to recycle and compost leftovers with only a few bites of their lunch consumed. When we ask why they didn’t eat more sometimes they say they didn’t like the food; however just as frequently they will say “I didn’t have time to eat everything.”
This response confuses school administrators, as it would seem that 30 minutes is sufficient for a child to each lunch. However, we have observed that students spend a lot of their lunch period talking, as it is often the first opportunity during the school day that they can relax and talk with their friends. Socializing often takes priority to eating!
The research – and We Future Cycle – offer recommendations about how to reduce lunchroom waste and to encourage healthier eating. Designing lunchrooms and lunch schedules to reduce wait times on lunch lines, and to offer as extensive lunch periods as possible, are constructive ideas. While recycling and composting is great, the best way to reduce waste is to not create it!