Tag Archives: whiteplainsschooldistrict

Report From the Trenches: Head Custodian Talks about Recycling Program

Implementing the We Future Cycle Recycling program in a new school is a lot of behind the scenes preparation work, the building has to get set up, all players need to be presented to, flow has to be created, guidelines established, responsibilities assigned and only once all that is done, we get to train the kids to actually source separate in the lunchroom and thus reducing garbage by a whopping 98%.

One of the key player in each school is the head custodian and the success of the program is tightly connected to his/her buy in.

We Future Cycle sat down to talk with Pedro Molina, head custodian at White Plains Ridgeway Elementary School, the first of the White Plains schools to join the program two years ago.

Pedro laughed when I asked him to recall. He said he did not believe me initially when I talked about a 95% reduction in waste. He worked too long in a school and has for too long carried out 15 bags of garbage every lunch.

After setting up the station in the lunchroom and living through the blur of the first day of hands on training the kids to sort, he believed me, in a breathless sort of way. We did the waste audit together, weighed each bag together and documented the incredible reduction. Pedro mentioned : “I am going to be in trouble, I have so much commingled recycling now, and no place to put it”

Pedro jumped into action, and went about teaching his staff so that the system is providing consistency and continuity. From day 2 on, breakfast, lunch and afterschool programs were sorting, an incredible accomplishment.

In the beginning there was resistance from his staff. Cleaners thought it will be more work for them, but once students learned how to sort it became easier and easier and now, instead of having to bring out 15 bags in a span of 1.5 hrs, cleaners only have to clean up at the very end of lunch.

Pedro Molina’s constant support is vital to the program and his enthusiasm and guidance is the key ingredient to keeping the students engaged. He shares that he has a large crew of student helpers every single day helping at the station.

And it didn’t stop at school, Pedro has taken the information home and is diligent about sorting at home too. Seriously WAY TO GO!

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White Plains Ridgeway Students Compost All Classroom Food waste

Check out these two recycling rangers from White Plains Ridgeway Elementary School.

20170104_104701_1They are bringing the organic snack waste from their classroom to the lunchroom. There it is combined with the food waste that will  be composted. White Plains has adopted the We Future Cycle Recycling Program last year and is working hard to make its schools a waste free environment. And Ridgeway is very much on its way.

The lunchroom has reduced garbage by a whopping 95% through sorting and diversion into recycling and composting and each classroom is doing the same thing.

Students learned in We Future Cycle presentations how to reduce snack waste by choosing naturally unwrapped foods as well as using reusable containers. Each time a student was waste free he or she got a leaf to paste on the “Ridgeway Caring Tree” and the tree looks beautiful and very “leafy”.

20170104_104939Every day, students of all grades bring their organics down to the lunchroom and carefully clean their pail. Head Custodian Pedro Molina reports that there is practically nothing in the trash at the end of the day.

 

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.

White Plains Head Custodian Support is Key to Success of Recycling Program

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Darrel Kidd removing contamination

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.

 

White Plains Church St School tackling Single Serve Snack Waste

White Plains Church St Elementary School students have learned all about sorting and recycling. Last year, the school implemented the We Future Cycle Recycling Program and has had fantastic results

Before implementation Church Street Elementary generated 196 lbs of waste in the lunchroom every day. But with the program in place, all liquids, compostables and recyclables were sorted out, only 3 lbs of actual trash was left over. And even 18.5 lbs of untouched food was rescued and donated. A win – win – win situation.

While this 98% reduction of waste through diversion is fabulous, these 3 lbs constitute a kitchen sized bag filled to the brim with single serve snack waste like juice pouches, chips, cookie wrappers and hundreds and hundreds of sandwich bags.

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This problem is now being tackled. We Future Cycle’s experienced presenters skillfully helped the students to see the connection between food and their body and ultimately their health. They all knew that chips and cookies were junk food and not good for them, but they mentally separated “snack” from the concept of “food”.

Walking them through reading labels, understanding the marketing behind colorful pictures of fruit on a package of sweets that contains only 1% fruit juice was an eye opening experience for them.

And then walking them through how what is not good for their body is also not good for the Earth as the single serve packaging is trash, energized them into making a change. The air was buzzing with students making suggestions on how to make a difference.

 

White Plains Eastview Middle School Joins We Future Cycle Program

A big shout out to White Plains’ Eastview Middle School Principal Joseph Cloherty who boldy went where no-one has gone before. Right on day one of the school year 2016-17 he had his incoming 6th graders sort their waste for the first time using the We Future Cycle Lunchroom Recycling Program.

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Principal Cloherty knew that consistency and continuity are important lessons to learn, as 3/5th of his incoming student body was coming from White Plains elementary schools which already run the We Future Cycle program: Ridgeway, Church St and Post Rd.

Eastview Middle School is for 6th graders alone, and it is under construction right now with wonderful upgrades in the making, but not quite finished yet.  So, adding to the challenges of being in a new building and learning the new recycling system on Day One of school, students were also dealing with an unfinished cafeteria that was serving packaged box lunches, instead of cooked meals.

However, with the help of the custodial staff under head custodian Cristian Reyes and the Teaching Assistants under Ms. Julie, students were guided through the process by the experienced We Future Cycle staff. Students and staff learned quickly and after 6 days of sorting, we have proudly achieved a 91% reduction in waste because of students who do correct and independent sorting.

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Recovered Food from half of one lunch period

A waste audit showed that Eastview students divert daily 91 % of their waste into composting and recycling.  They also save 65  lbs  of untouched foods from going into the garbage every day. Sixy-five pounds of untouched food translates into 4 crates of milk cartons, fruit cups, carrot sticks,  yogurt cups, wrapped sandwiches, and cheese sticks. This food is now recovered and donated, thanks to the wonderful food service crew under leadership of Manager Laura Ackerly.

Eastview Middle School is doing a phenomenal job and next year its graduates will be moving the program up the line into Highland Middle school for 7th and 8th grade. Growing the program through the grades is how it becomes second nature to all ages, bringing change not only to the students and the school, but also to the communities that these students call home.

 

Worms, Worms, Glorious Worms, White Plains Ridgeway Students LOVE their new friends

Recently White Plains Ridgeway 2nd grade students learned all about how important worms are for this world. They listened to a presentation about them, and got down and dirty to check them out up close and personal.

And now they are taking care of them and are writing about them. Check out what Maria and Saul have to say about them.

Worms Are Awesome!

By Saul Leon Huerta and Maria Clara Bornia

Worms Are Awesome! Worms are important for our environment because they eat food waste and then poop out rich soil. The worm poop is called castings.  Their poop has a lot of nutrients for the soil and is good for all the plants. This is called compost. They eat our food waste, which doesn’t only help them but helps Worms eat half their body weight every day! Worms have to stay under the soil and the leaves so they don’t dry up and die. They have to be moist. Our class is learning about worms and worm composting. We are trying to recycle and reuse stuff so it cannot go into the landfill. We set up a worm composting bin in our class. It is called vermiculture. Our worms eat our natural snack waste. We gave them banana peel, watermelon, and strawberry. We made a hypothesis to predict what food they would eat first. Most of us guessed watermelon. We observed for a week and discovered they ate more watermelon. Our hypothesis was correct! Next we will give them an apple core. We think they will love it!