Tag Archives: Styrofoam

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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 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!

 

 

 

Cash For Columbus School Writing Competition Winners

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Columbus Elementary School was the proud winner for the coveted Nina Chin Writing Contest Grant. Mrs. Nunez, Principal, gave 3rd, 4th and 5th graders the opportunity to participate by writing an essay to the Topic “I can make a difference”. 145 students rose to the challenge, an outstanding level of participation, thanks to two teachers Ms Costa and Ms Alexander-Zahn, who went from class to class to promote the contest.

On June 15th at 10:00, the auditorium was filled with excited students. Who snagged the top prizes per grade?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The ceremony began with a presentation by 11 students sharing information about Columbus’ recycling program. Students shared that they learned that they can make a big difference by sorting their waste into different categories, they were proud to have weighed the materials and realized that instead of making 400 lbs or garbage, they only made 8 lbs and all the rest is now raw material for new things.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A second grader said that she is now the recycling specialist in her house and is teaching her mom about it. A kindergarten student  loudly proclaimed that we only have one Earth and she will make sure that all her friends are taking care of it with her.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A sideways glance to the dignitaries Derrik and Jean Chin, Irene Schindler and Rev. Jennie Talley showed that they were very moved, clutching tissues.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Sonia Nunez, Principal

The second part of the celebration was Mrs. Nunez calling one by one the runner ups and winners per grade up to the front to receive their certificate and their envelope with the cash prize. While the kids came up, some excerpts of their essay was shared.

Some truly powerful statements came from these young minds.

Mia Torres shared in her essay that she wants to help the environment because when she looks outside, she sees plastic bags in the trees. She doesn’t like that because the trees help us breathe.

Jasmin Alvarez very wisely said “Live like every day is Earthday!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Mia Torres, 3rd grade

And Willy Hidalgo says; ” to make Earth green we have to care for it. We also have to clean up liter and garbage, even if it is not yours!”

Willy, you are SO right! Well said.

Michelle Oliveros thought long term, an outstanding achievement for a 5th grader. She said; ” We have to keep the Earth clean for our future families. We also have to let our families know about recycling and reusing. It is all about our Earth.”

New Rochelle Columbus Students are making a huge difference

Introducing Sustainability Education and Source Separation to a school is a massive undertaking because of the sheer number of  stakeholders. Think about it, changing behavior from “throwing it all away” to “responsibly sorting” in a building that has 1,100 people zooming through it at all times is huge!

Well, New Rochelle’s Columbus Elementary School is showing how it is done.

Ms. Nunez, Principal, and Ms. Owens, Assistant Principal, know that it takes everybody to be on the same page to be successful – not just within the building, but also from Food Service, Facilities, Central Administration and of course the parents.  A brilliant move to create consensus and ownership of the program at every level.

We Future Cycle then presented to each stakeholder group, such as the custodial staff, teachers, parents, monitors, and every single student in small groups. Sharing the visual of the amount of garbage that is being generated every day, and then adding it up to just one week was greeted with audible sounds of shock and disbelief.

IMG_0258

 

23 bags of trash every day is a pretty powerful argument, and that is just from lunch. It does not even include the 20 bags coming out of night clean.

IMG_0288

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Future Cycle involved the students to help with a Waste Audit. The students counted every single packaging material that is brought into the cafeteria and the raw data is now with the 5th grade Kaleidoscope students to work with.  Learning how hard data collection can be was a lesson in itself.

Read here how Columbus students reduced their lunchroom waste by 98%.

Setting up a building to allow for proper flow of materials relies heavily on clear and consistent signage as well as proper placement of the correct bins. Head Custodian George directed his team to set up each bin as per our suggestion with the signage provided by us, and the success was instantaneous. Kindergarten students carefully rinsed out their snack containers to place them into the commingled bin, proudly informing the teacher. “See, I am recycling, Mr Mastro.’ Every day, eager hands are up to get the job to bring the class room bins into the central hall way stations.IMG_0321

Columbus is only a few days into the process, but has already successfully reduced lunchroom waste by 98%, from just under 400 lbs per lunch to only 8 lbs, and the building output has also drastically been reduced by diverting the paper and commingled into recycling.

Columbus students are super excited because a film crew is covering the transformation of the school and the documentary is going to be shown on the big screen.  I can share already with you that Columbus is full of raw talent. So, watch out for the showing of “Columbus Students are Making a Real Difference” coming soon to the picture house near you.

IMG_0303

 

 

 

How Much is Actually “a Ton of Garbage”?

Garbage costs money.  However only very few people actually know how much it costs and what a ton looks like. Very few of us think further then to the curb.

Let’s look at school garbage a little closer. A school with 830 students generated 23 large black bags of garbage every lunch, the total weight of those bags is 398.5 lbs.

This is what 23 bags look like. IMG_0258 Now that we know what about 400 lbs of garbage looks like, lets think about it.

A ton of garbage costs the tax payer around $80.00 to just dump it onto the tipping floor of the Incinerator, the big trash burning facility up in Peekskill. 400 lbs is a fifth of a ton.  So, imagine 5 times the amount you see, or 115 bags of trash. Clearly the $80 per ton does not represent the only cost of garbage. This material has to be put in bags, then brought outside into the dumpster, then loaded by workers into diesel fuel guzzling trucks (about 2.5 miles per gallon of diesel), driven to a transfer station, dumped there, then loaded onto large trucks and driven 50 miles up north to be dumped onto the tipping floor of the incinerator. And then it is burnt into our air. I get dizzy just looking at how often this material needs to be touched and handled for it “to go away”. It takes that much time and effort to “just throw something away”.

We just started the School lunch recycling program in this school and the kids sorted their lunchwaste into liquids, commingled, milk cartons, compost and trash. The results were astounding. unnamed

Out of the previous 398.5 lbs, only 8 lbs were actually non recyclable. That means that 98% of the material is recyclable.  So, “just throwing it away” is not just costing us a lot of money, but in fact, we use tax payer money to burn materials that we could easily sell for a profit. unnamed (2)

This is what 10 lbs of commingled looks like. Some math on the value of commingled. 1 ton of plastic PETE 1 sells from the Yonkers MRF for around $800. (the cost is market driven, oil dependent and is fluctuating). 10 lbs of plastic (to simplify this calculation, it is all the same resin) 2000 lbs of plastics sell for $800.00 10 lbs = $4.00 Milk cartons sell for $450 per ton. 30 lbs = $6.75 IMG_0278And this is what 15 lbs of milk cartons look like, we had two of these bags. And two full 5 gallon buckets with waste liquid weighing 74 lbs. That means we use fossil fuels to truck liquids 50 miles north just to burn them, rather then sending them down the drain? By far the heaviest was the food waste. 180 lbs of wasted food from 800 kids, plus about 50 lbs of untouched never opened food that was placed into the share basket. Clearly, a ton of garbage is a lot, but as you can see, only 2% of it is actually non recyclable.

So, our convenience to “just throw it away” costs us all dearly. Not just as hard cash but also at great environmental expense.

We Future Cycle’s Bash The Trash Documentary showing in Pelham Picture House on April 22, 6:30 pm

On April 22nd 2015 at 6:30, the curtain will rise to show the documentary filmed about the Bash The Trash Legacy Project created and supervised by We Future Cycle in the Colonial Elementary School in Pelham. We are so excited and hope you can all join us for this event.

maxresdefault-e1429033807574Also shown will be “Devide in Concord”, the tale of the battle to ban the plastic bottle.

The Pelham Picture house is located at 175 Wolfs Ln, Pelham, NY 10803.

We Future Cycle Joined Forces with Creative Change Educational Solutions to Bring STEM Based Environmental Education Into The Classroom

creative-change-education-systems-logoCreative Change Educational Solutions Founder and Executive Director Susan Satone asked herself in 2002:

What do you do if you’re a teacher and everything you’re passionate about is largely absent from the curriculum?

This is the dilemma I faced more than 20 years ago when I was teaching in the public schools. I had discovered sustainability through the issue of world hunger and was desperately searching for a way to bring these issues into my teaching. I wanted to inspire students and develop their skills in addressing global issues. And that’s when I decided to start Creative Change. I wanted to build an organization focused on supporting educators to teach effectively about sustainability. I wanted to equip people with quality curr5iculum that supports inquiry, engagement and action. 

We Future Cycle’s mission is to bring sustainability awareness to students, as young as kindergarten. Children can learn that their choices, their actions count and can make a big difference. We know that doing hands-on source separation in the lunchroom needs to be backed up with class room activities. We created the 2 week “Bash the Trash” program where  a 10 day curriculum is tying each step of the program into ELA, Math, Social Studies and Science.

Creative Change Educational Solutions graciously supplied us with cutting edge, STEM oriented lesson units, helping teachers to incorporate sustainability education into the mainstream curriculum.

For more information on Creative Change Educational Solutions, go to      CREATIVECHANGE.NET

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.

Westchester County Legislator Catherine Parker Introduces Limited-Use Plastic Bag Legislation

We Future Cycle is proud to support Westchester County Legislator Catherine Parker in her announcement to introduce a bill to limit the use of plastic bags and styrofoam containers by retail businesses in the county.  She was joined by Legislators Catherine Borgia, Maryjane Shimsky, and Pete Harckham, who are co-sponsoring the bill, as well as Mamaroneck Town Supervisor Nancy Seligson and Girl Scout Cadette Katie Yacoub, who is doing a plastic bag project in Eastchester.   Read the full article on the New Rochelle Patch

Photos courtesy of John Filiberti.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

GETTING RESULTS: New Rochelle School District Eliminates Carcinogenic Styrofoam From The Menu

downloadUnder the leadership of Interim Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Korostoff and now  to be continued by New Rochelle’s new Superintendent Dr. Brian Osborne, New Rochelle School District is finally eliminating  disposable food trays made from Styrofoam from all of its cafeterias.

Expanded PolyStyrene, also known as “Styrofoam”  contains Styrene and that chemical has been linked to cancer and has been classified in 2011 as “reasonably anticipated human carcinogen” by the US Department of Health.

http://ecowatch.com/2014/07/29/styrene-officially-linked-to-cancer/?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=06e8c5f2aa-Top_News_7_30_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-06e8c5f2aa-85840709

This is a wonderful development and a major win of the health and well being of our children and the environment over short sighted consideration of the pocket book.

Styrofoam trays remain the cheapest options for school districts to feed their children on, but cheapest is clearly not in the best interest of the children. Actually, it is unconscionable of School Districts to feed children on this material.

Styrofoam trays are only the cheapest because none of the upstream nor downstream costs of this material is considered. The material uses toxic ingredients, has been linked to leaching these materials into the food and drink it comes in contact with, and creates massive amount of garbage that is either landfilled and NEVER goes away, or it is, in the case of Westchester County, incinerated to then release its Styrene into the air (and guess who is breathing that air?).

When it comes to the health and weTraysfrom2schoolsll-being of our children and ultimately of our community…. CHEAP is not the right solution.

New Rochelle School District is also implementing the School Lunch Recycling Program in all of its elementary and middle schools and is paving the way for other large school districts to follow. If a district with 11,000 students can put the health of its students first, so can others. Ultimately, by taking Styrofoam out of the system, and teaching the children to source separate in the buildings and the lunchroom, thus diverting 90% of the materials from trash to recycling, New Rochelle is set to save hundreds of thousands of dollars so far spent on Waste Management.

A Win-Win and WIN situation for the children, environment and ultimately the pocket book. All it takes, is a change of attitude.