Tag Archives: taxmoney

School Waste Audits Show Change Is Very Possible

As Sustainability Coordinator and Waste Management Consultant for schools, I am always counting and weighing garbage bags, mostly under the watchful eyes of head custodians that are highly skeptical of being asked to institute a “recycling program”. Sometimes with the help of the students, sometimes without.

The general notion in schools is that when there is a blue bin somewhere, then there is a recycling program. Upon being asked how much commingled they are actually pulling out of the building to be recycled, I am often met with a lengthy explanation on why the material is so contaminated that they have to discard it as trash.

The prevalence is still that ” It is all garbage to me” and ” I don’t have time to recycle”.

That is where We Future Cycle, a non profit organization specialized on large scale sustainability programs comes in.

The mere fact that I come in and count and weigh the garbage puts a value on garbage, which was not there before. Custodial staff usually does not think of the cost associated with garbage, but being told just how much their school generates creates already an awareness.

Schools being supported by We Future Cycle are usually audited before any recycling program component is implemented, and then after each component comes on line, and then periodically to make sure things are still on tracks.

We have seen dramatic reductions from 277 lbs from lunch alone down to 3.5 lbs and 187 lbs from night clean down to 21 lbs.

Showing reduction results from other schools with similar number of students is first met with high degree of skepticism, but once they see me standing on a scale, holding a bulging dripping back of garbage to weigh it, they know, that School Waste Audits show that change is very possible.

Environmental Change Can Come Fast with the Right Leaders in New Rochelle

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn January of 2014, I gave this speech to the New Rochelle BOE reminding them yet again, that Styrofoam is BAD and that the lack of district wide recycling is costing the tax payer huge money. This is not a new tune, for three years, without fail I have been singing this tune and slowly but surely things moved.

It started with Mr Quinn finally admitting that recycling is needed (June of 2012), to him admitting that we need to be better at it by sending out a memo to remind all staff about the recycling laws in January 2013. I guess, he was tired of my bi-weekly speeches and constant emails with pictures of recyclables in the trash at the different New Rochelle schools.

IMG_20130307_134401In September of 2013, after my speech about Barnard not having ever used their recycling container and Isaac Young using theirs to collect water, Ms Brickle finally asked to put this topic on the agenda.

In January of 2014, despite my regular pushing, still nothing has been set. So I presented this speech to them.

http://www.newrochelletalk.com/content/remarks-board-ed-waste-waste-management-january-28-2014-meeting

This speech was the tipping point for Dr Korostoff to take decisive action. By April of 2014  Styrofoam was abandoned in 3 pilot schools, food waste composting and full source separation was established and garbage went down from 22 bags to a mere two handfuls.

And with that came the realization that a complete waste management revamp, as I had lobbied for for years, is not only possible, but advisable.

The plan is to have the other schools join the different environmental programs by September, as well as have the current garbage system completely revamped to allow for source separated material disposal, while saving the tax payer close to $500.000.

This shows that Environmental Change CAN come very fast with decisive leaders.