Tag Archives: trash

Earth Day 2018…Who is with me? Transforming a Science Teacher to Become Green.

We Future Cycle is very proud to have inspired Mrs McCue to not only become green but also to share with all of us her story.

“Mrs. McCue, are you going to stop buying bottled water?” asked one of my students gathered around me at the door, waiting for the bell to ring. Forty eyes were on me. We had just heard a We Future Cycle guest speaker teach us about water treatment and the perils of too much plastic in our world. I looked over at my desk and spied one small water bottle I had gotten that day at a school event, and two half-filled water bottles I had brought from home. “Yes – I should, shouldn’t I?”   I thought to myself, “I have no excuse. Our tap water is fine! I have several reusable beverage containers taking up space in my kitchen cabinet. Why don’t I fill those daily, like I bring my lunch to school every day? If I am going to teach these students to be responsible caretakers of the earth, I should begin by modeling responsible earth-friendly behavior!

Of course I should! Aside from hearing this message loud and clear from Anna Giordano, I had been prompted as well by a few recent news stories. The visual of the Great Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean haunted me, as did the horrific photo of the sea turtle with a plastic straw being extracted from its nose. The focus on this year’s Earth Day 2018 is: End Plastic Pollution. It’s time for me to practice what I preach.

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Several days after this “no-more-bottled-water-epiphany”, at the start of spring break, I found myself on a beach out in Long Island. It was a sunny, windy, 45 degree day, so there was not another person on this long stretch of beach. Two seagulls eyed me as I walked by, snapping their photo. I was noticing the beach erosion from several recent nor’easters and began to think about some other results of these storms. An entire tree lay on the sand. “What else may have washed in during these storms?” I thought.  As I walked along, I admired the rocks and shells, my reverie interrupted by an occasional plastic straw. I noticed a pink plastic wrist coil keychain. Then I saw remnants of a purple balloon. It looked like a piece of seaweed – this could easily be mistaken for seaweed by a hungry creature! I thought of the sea turtle as I placed the balloon remnant alongside some seaweed and snapped a photo. “I can’t just leave it there now”, I thought. If I am going to show my class this picture to illustrate the dangers of plastic in a sea creature’s diet, they will certainly ask if I removed that plastic from the beach!  So I grabbed a stick and picked up the purple balloon remnant and carried it off the beach to the nearest trash receptacle. The two gulls watched, fluffing their feathers in the wind. That got me thinking…….

Back at the house, I started to research – what can I do as Earth Day approaches to make a difference in the environment? I found an app on the Ocean Conservancy website called Clean Swell which allows you to keep track of trash collected during a clean-up. This is perfect! After spending a good ten minutes coming up with a group name (McQs for the Deep Blue), I downloaded the app onto my phone and recruited my daughter to return with me to the beach. We retrieved some of the items I had passed by earlier – the pink coil keychain, the deteriorated pocket knife, the orange disposable razor, five straws and ten bottlecaps.  All of these items were collected from a half-mile stretch of seemingly pristine beach in a period of 45 minutes. Imagine the  amount of plastic that might be lurking beneath the sand at a much more traveled beach? Imagine the impact a larger group of volunteers could have?

As Earth Day 2018 approaches, I WILL use less plastic by not purchasing water bottles.  I would also like to organize or join a beach clean-up. This clean-up may be “a drop in the ocean”, but if more of us take this idea and run, it will be a much cleaner ocean when we’re done. (no rhyme intended).  Who’s with me?

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We Future Cycle White Plains and New Rochelle Schools To Receive Westchester County Earth Day Award

We Future Cycle is exceedingly proud that the White Plains and New Rochelle Schools are honored at the upcoming Westchester County Earth Day for their participation in the We Future Cycle Recycling Program that diverts 95% of their waste into recycling and composting streams.

Ridgeway Elementary School Principal Tashia Brown will be receiving the award in the name of the White Plains School District and New Rochelle Jefferson Assistant Principal LeAnn Bruno will be receiving it for the New Rochelle School District.

Both are well deserved, both are champion supporters of the We Future Cycle Sustainability Programs and have gone out of their way to personally support the efforts of their students.

Congratulations!

New Rochelle Middle School Students Pitching In At Five Island Park

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was blistering cold, but that did not stop a group of very motivated New Rochelle Middle school students from pitching in at New Rochelle’s Five Island Park.

As part of the Junior Honor Society service hour requirements these upstanding kids donned gloves and started picking up trash. A real treasure trove, one might add. Tires, a tricycle, endless bottles and Styrofoam cups were bagged.

Sonia Morris and Stella Giordano, both 8th graders, decided to do it the hard way and chose the breakers as their spot to clean up. Climbing the boulders and reaching into crevices to dislodge the bottle was great fun and one nearly forgot about the ears that froze off in the wind chill.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was a humbling experience to see just the amount of garbage within the rocks, and the yards and yards of discarded fishing line, entangled around things.

2 hrs later, 4 filled bags of trash and a donut in one hand, both recalled that it was hard work but also very rewarding, and they both felt good about giving up their weekend morning to make a difference.

Way to go!

 

White Plains Ridgeway Elementary Kitchen Staff Feeds 600 Students Almost Wastefree!

Meet the Ridgeway Elementary School Kitchen Crew. These wonderful ladies make sure that Ridgeway students are happy campers in the lunchroom. Salads, sandwiches, hot food, all is prepared fresh right on site.

Ridgeway Elementary School was one of the White Plains pilot schools to join the We Future Cycle recycling program and the entire school embraced the program with gusto.

The kitchen crew sorts all food waste into compost, all packaging material into recycling and they are also sorting all clean soft plastic into a bag which gets recycled at the local grocery story as part of the plastic bag recycling. This portion of the program is completely voluntary, and Ridgways kitchen staff is going every week above and beyond to do their part for the environment.

I was proudly shown their office size garbage can that sported after a full day of work just a handful of gloves and a few dirty soft plastic food pouches.

That is truly a wonderful example of an entire school community making a difference and going green.

For White Plains Eastview Students Recycling Is The New Normal

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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.

New Rochelle Trinity Students Digging In Dirt and Loving It

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Inspecting Soil Samples

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe 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.

For more information:

https://wefuturecycle.com/2014/11/20/why-food-composting-can-save-westchesters-taxpayer-money-big-time/