Meet Jonah, a 6th grader at the Albert Leonard Middle School. He is a fire cracker for the environment and makes it his business that the We Future Cycle recycling system is working properly. He explains that climate change is real and if we are not starting to act upon it, we will be in trouble. And Jonah acts on it! Single handed he recruits classmates to help him build a cleaner school world. He made up flyers and posted them around the school and when he gets to the lunchroom, he eats quickly and then dons on gloves to supervise a recycling station.
This kind of above and beyond attitude did not go unnoticed by the school administration and Jonah received the “Upstander of the Week” award by Principal Barnes and Assistant Principal Goldberg. He also received a T-Shirt to go with that award. Big applause, this is what it takes to make a difference.
Thank you Jonah for your personal commitment and your drive to make this a better world.
Last night about 300 of New Rochelle’s parents had a chance to stroll in the festively decorated lunchroom of Albert Leonard Middle School to view lots of silent auction item as well as tasting delicious fare from fabulous New Rochelle restaurants.
The annual ALMS PTSA fundraiser “Taste of New Rochelle” was a relaxing place to meet and greet parents we only get to see on our (hurried) way to drop off or pick up our kids.
Last night marked also the first time that this event was source separated to mirror what the students are doing in the lunchroom.
Parents had the opportunity to sort their waste into “Food & Paper” and “Commingled Recycling” and they all did it with gusto and flawlessly. Anna Giordano, Executive Director of We Future Cycle, the not-for-profit organisation that was hired to bring extensive sustainability programs to the district was there to help at the station and to share the fabulous results achieved in all the schools since the inception of the program. ALMS has reduced its lunchroom waste by a whopping 95%, its building waste by a good 50% and its kitchen waste by 65%. All in all, that is about 450 lbs of garbage NOT generated every day, and that just from one of the 9 participating New Rochelle schools.
Thanks to the program, New Rochelle School District was able to revamp its waste management system and save considerable funds. Carl Thurnau, the Director of Facilities for the district has just quantified it at the ongoing budget meetings with an annual savings of $130,000.
And of course, Westchester County is benefiting from the increase of recyclables delivered to the Material Recovery Facility near Stew Leonards. Recyclables are commodities that are sold back to industry for considerable prices.
ALMS Taste of New Rochelle generated 3 large bags of recyclables, one bag of food waste for composting, and only about 2 lbs of trash, mainly Styrofoam products.
On my regular visit to schools participating in the We Future Cycle Recycling Program, I often ask the students how they are feeling about sorting in the lunchroom. The answers today made me so proud! Here is what Eastview’s 6th graders had to say.
Diego said that sorting is not hard, it helps the Earth so much and he now does it automatically without thinking and also at home.
David brought the information home and in his house there are 3 bins now and everything gets sorted correctly, and that makes it so much cleaner.
Reid echoed that now his house also recycles, something they did not do before.
Rebecca shared that they were recycling before she learned about it in school, but now they are also composting in their yard and they are much more exact about what items can all be recycled.
Silvia also brought recycling home and it is now the new normal at home as well.
Watching 600+ students sorting carefully their lunchroom waste into excess liquid, commingled recycling and food waste for composting was so inspiring. They KNEW what to do, and they did it casually, completely naturally and without any effort at all. While chatting with their friends soft plastic was separated from the left over sandwich so each could go into the correct bin, left over milk was poured into the bucket, and the carton went into recycling.
This new normal also shows throughout the building as each classroom is set up with a paper and commingled recycling bin .
Today I audited the garbage that came from night clean, so from all the classrooms, bathrooms and offices and it was incredible! A building of 600+ students generated just 16 lbs of garbage in the building, 6 lbs from lunch and breakfast and 3 lbs from the kitchen. So a total of only 25 lbs of garbage per day, down from 296 lbs per day or an overall 92% reduction! That is way wonderful. And just think about these 600+ students bringing this news home and making it the new normal there as well.
What happens to the food waste that New Rochelle students are sorting out in the lunchroom to be composted? How does composting work and is it really worth the effort? Those were questions that New Rochelle Trinity 5th graders are learning the answers to.
We Future Cycle, a not-for- profit organisation specialized in large scale sustainability programs has been working with Trinity Elementary school and its 1000+ students for years now. Source separation and words like commingled and compost are second nature to these kids.
In classroom presentations, students learned what happens to food that is put into a landfill, they learned about harmful Methane as potent green house gas and large contributor to global warming and they learned about the chemical processes that take place inside a compost pile. Giggles and audible gasps were heard when they learned that each one of them is a decomposer as the banana that might go into their mouth does not come out quite like a banana again.
The best part was digging in the dirt as they got to examine up close and personal four different soil samples. Inspecting them while looking for color, texture, water retention capabilities and organic matter content gave them a deep understanding of the connection between healthy soils and its ability to grow food.
Each worm they found was greeted with cheers and great enthusiasm.
Trinity’s 5th graders have learned now that treating food waste as garbage is wasting a valuable resource. Making compost from food waste and leaves is making black gold, and it saves a lot of money.
” I reuse by using a plastic container for lunch and a metal bottle” writes and illustrates Amanda Koffler.
We Future Cycle recently did a refresher class in all classrooms of New Rochelle Davis Elementary School. Students learned more about how bad garbage was for the environment, and that there is no “away” on this Earth.
Ms Curry’s First Grade class was all fired up and decided to write a book on how they will make a difference and help this Earth.
I was very impressed. Jefferson Rabanales wrote a “How to” story on sorting. He titled it “How to recycle” and outlined clearly the steps.
First you eat your snack or your lunch
you find the correct bin
now you put the stuff in the correct bin
Nadia Morales very nicely color coded her picture and summarized : “I help the Earth because I recycling”
Abigayle Mills outlines that she helps the Earth by always bringing reusable water bottles.
Nalani Canales re-purposes materials to make new things out of it. “I help the Earth because I reuse a shoebox to make a mailbox”
Juliana Rubino has the right idea. “I clean up the Earth because I clean up the Earth every day”
Every single one of Ms Curry’s students pledged to help the Earth. Way to go!
New Rochelle Henry Barnard students are well into their second year participating in the We Future Cycle recycling program. From time to time, we go back into the classrooms to do more education around the topic and even the littlest ones are now sorting flawlessly.
They know what goes in the green bin, and what goes in the blue bin. And they are happily piping up when I was “making a sorting mistake”.
Teaching children young to care about the environment, to sort materials and foster the understanding that nothing is disposable is the key to creating a generation of kids that care.
New Rochelle Davis Elementary School students are expert lunchroom material sorters. The school is in its second year of the We Future Cycle Recycling program and has reduced its building waste by nearly 50% and its lunchroom waste by a whopping 92%.
To refresh students and to infuse new excitement into being green, We Future Cycle presenters went into all the classes today to expand on what the students know already about the detrimental consequences of garbage in the environment.
Part of the presentation was this 3 min video clip.
This powerful clip brought home to them, that there is no “away” when it comes to garbage and it lead to a healthy discussion about plastic consumption, personal commitment to make a change and the dire need for everybody to become engaged.