We’re so excited to share with you the winners of our 2020 Waste Campaign! These amazing student teams worked so hard on behalf of their environment in their communities.

Grand Prize Eco-Grant Winner – $1,000

Mary Bragg Elementary School  – Cerritos, California

This team consisted of fifty 4th and 5th graders who met before school to discuss solutions to reduce single-use water bottles in their community. They presented to their school’s PTA, in classrooms, and at school assemblies, and then took it even further by hosting beach clean-ups to spread awareness and provide a way for people to take action to help the environment. On top of these efforts, the team started an advocacy campaign that encouraged all their district’s elementary schools to have their own Green Teams to engage in environmental action. With their strong drive and organizational skills, the Bragg team was able to do this all of this before the “stay-at-home” order was enacted. While they weren’t able to present at their principal’s meeting due to their school closing, they were able to continue inspiring others virtually.


Best Elementary Impact – $500

Bryant Ranch Elementary Green Team – Yorba Linda, California

This team has been working incredibly hard, even after the stay at home order was implemented. This team addressed a unique plastic bag problem within their school since it was on their team’s required school supplies list. The team members, though young, asked for alternatives to plastic bags since it was not necessary and it would only contribute to waste.

The Bryant Ranch Team


HELP US TO PROVIDE NEXT CAMPAIGN’S ECO-GRANTS

We need your help to continue to provide these transformative Eco-Grants to our students. These grants encourage students to complete their projects, and are one of the most powerful ways for us to expand our students’ impact!

601 W. 26th Street #325


Green Influencers Award – $500

HEAR Club from California Academy of Mathematics and Science High School  – Carson, California

The HEAR Club used their project to raise awareness of microplastics in synthetic clothing and the damage that they do to the environment. The team reached out to organizations that focused on microplastics reduction and conducted an interview with Grades of Green to further explain the issue, impacts, and potential solutions.


Campus Advocates Award – $250

Keller Dual Language Middle School – Long Beach, California

This team encouraged the head of nutrition services at their school to find alternatives to the single-use, plastic-wrapped sporks served alongside lunch in their school. Their goal was to prove that using reusable utensils as an alternative would be more efficient, more cost-effective, and most importantly, more environmentally friendly. They hope to make the environmentally-conscious changes permanent.


Campus Changemakers Award – $250

EarthSavers from Thomas Starr King Middle School – Los Angeles, California

This very motivated team of 8th graders were working on a pilot program to reduce the number of plastic utensils used at school. Their ultimate goal is to present their findings to their principal and advocate for ultimately replacing plastic utensils with a compostable option. When the Stay-at-Home order was put into place, the team continued their research to find alternatives for plastic utensils and single-use trays.


Most Inspirational Team Award – $250

Whittier Elementary School – Long Beach, California

Whittier Elementary focused on ways to reduce litter on their campus. They educated their school through videos about the harmful effects of litter and showcased how cleaning up was every student’s responsibility. They worked with their principal and teachers to set up “beautification zones” to clean up their school’s grounds.


Best Alumni Team – $250

Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School 74 – Queens, New York

This team of 10 students has previously worked with Grades of Green on several Campaign projects. This semester, they continued to pursue water bottle waste reduction efforts at their own school before expanding their advocacy to nearby elementary schools. The team then focused on recycling markers at their school but switched their project to educating their community on reducing plastic usage after the stay-at-home-order was implemented.


International Changemakers Award – $500

University of Buea  – Buea, Cameroon

`This team in Cameroon advocated to their University administration to stop the open burning of trash on campus and encouraged their university body to seek out trash collection services and trash bin sites. During this process, they worked to create a university recycling program while educating younger students and siblings about waste issues occurring in their community. The team lead, Forbi Perise, recently spoke to the UN as part of the World Oceans Day global virtual event. Watch his presentation and panel discussion.


Student Recognition Awards

Best Student Leader – Samantha T, Mira Costa High School


Samantha is a 11th grade student at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach. She has been involved in Grades of Green since 2012, bringing energy and passion to all of the environmental projects she has taken on over the years.  Sam began with the Grades of Green Youth Corps Eco Leadership program in 2012 when she was in 3rd grade, leading environmental education and recycling projects in her community. Sam started the first student-led Grades of Green club at Mira Costa, spearheading solutions to environmental problems in her high school and city. She and her team began participating in the Rise Campaign program in 2018 focusing on educating her community about ocean health and leading projects to reduce plastic litter at the beach. Sam is a strong environmental advocate in her community and is consistently involved in environmental leadership and speaking out for green solutions.


Best Student Innovator – Sacha E, Granada Hills High School Habit Change Team 

Sacha E. is a student at Granada Hills Charter High school. He is interested in taking environmental action, because of the amount of waste and pollution in his community. The strong winds in the local neighborhoods constantly knock down trash cans and spill trash into the environment. Sasha’s project addresses this issue by using an innovative system of automatic electromagnetic locks that automatically secure trash cans if they are knocked over. This invention has been recognized as the most sustainable invention at the MIT EurekaFest. Sasha is also encouraging people to stop overfilling trashcans, so that trash can lids can be secured properly, further preventing litter in his community. His project demonstrates the power of innovative ideas and creative thinking when approaching environmental problems.


Adult Lead Award

Best Adult Lead – Sheri Sather, The Parallel Projects

Sheri sought to introduce her son, Justin, to other children around the world working to reduce plastics – and in 2019 they met Perise through social media.  Perise had collected over 8,000 thousand illegally dumped plastic bottles from around his hometown of Buea, and without any local recycling infrastructure Perise was looking for ideas on what to do with all the collected bottles.  Sheri and Justin spread the word about Perise’s situation, asking everyone they could for ideas. The two released a national call of action for solution.  Thus, Parallel Projects campaign was born. Sheri worked hard throughout the 2020 Waste Campaign ton continue sharing and implementing ideas from active environmental groups around the world.

QUARANTINE DOESN’T HAVE TO MEAN THAT ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION IS CANCELLED!

“This month, Grades of Green launched the bingo challenge  with LASAN, was featured on the South Bay Eco Festival with LASAN, had a Grades of Green student honored with the “President’s Environmental Youth Award,” and shared our student’s work and pitches on Instagram!

BINGO CHALLENGE:

Grades of Green is partnering with LA Sanitation & Environment (LASAN) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day by challenging Los Angeles families to reduce their impact on the environment by improving their waste footprint!”

PRESIDENT’S ENVIRONMENTAL YOUTH AWARD


Justin from the Parallel Projects received the EPA’s “President’s Environmental Youth Award.” He has created a global network of passionate students wanting to make a difference by reducing their waste through upcycling. Last year, Justin and his friend Perise in Cameroon transformed nearly 8,000 plastic bottles into useful projects! For all their hard work and impact, Justin and the Parallel Projects were also the recipients of one of the Eco-Grants from our last campaign!

We hope that you all stay safe and sustainable!

TAKE ACTION DURING EARTH WEEK AND WIN A VISIT FROM AN LASAN COLLECTION VEHICLE FOR YOUR NEXT PARTY!

Grades of Green is partnering with LA Sanitation & Environment (LASAN) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day by challenging Los Angeles families to reduce their impact on the environment by improving their waste footprint! Click HERE to join in the on the fun!

Tackle three (3) tasks in a row on your bingo card, share them on social media, and you could win the opportunity to amaze the guests at your child’s next birthday party or event with a visit from an LASAN collection truck!

As long as your party takes place within the boundaries of the City of Los Angeles and hosts no more than 20 guests, LASAN will send along one of their amazing collection vehicles and staff to wow your guests!

This is a perfect opportunity for the little ones who love to see the truck come by each week to pick up waste and recyclables. Guests will be able to see the truck up-close, operate the controls, and learn all about the vehicle from an LASAN Refuse Collection Truck Operator!

Challenge Period: April 22, 2020, at 10:00 am PDT through May 7, 2020, at 5:00 pm PDT.

The LA Kings and Grades of Green are teaming up to help children find ways to reuse household items and reduce waste!

How to Participate

Make art, a toy, or something to use! You could turn an old shirt into a reusable grocery bag, make art out of bottle tops, cut out old magazines to make stationary, or weave rugs out of an old pair of jeans.

Whatever the project, it’s a fun way to get the kids thinking creatively about reducing the amount of waste we send to the landfill.

Challenge Period: April 8, 2020, at 10:00 am PDT through April 17, 2020, at 5:00 pm PDT

SCORE TICKETS TO AN LA KINGS PRESEASON GAME!

The first fifty (50) eligible participants to submit a qualifying Post will receive a pair of tickets to one (1) LA Kings 2020-21 preseason home game at STAPLES Center!

PARTICIPATING IS EASY!

Just post a picture of your child(ren) posing with their repurposed item on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and include the hashtag #LAKingsGreen, tag the LA Kings Care Foundation and Grades of Green, and you could score those free tickets! Once you’ve posted your reused item, fill out the form below including a link to the post and we’ll get back to you if you’ve won!

If your account is private, we won’t be able to see your submission – so please shoot us a message to let us know that you posted and if you’re interested in tickets!

With the support of Sony Pictures’ A Greener World, we are launching the “Green Pitch Challenge!” Students will team up to put together pitch videos to showcase their solution to environmental problems in their communities and beyond.



Each team’s pitch video will focus on convincing a specific community to act on reducing various types of waste and waste-related issues.

The winning student or team will earn an Eco-Grant of $1,000 and two (2) runner-up students or teams will earn $500! All three winners will be able to tour the Sony Pictures Studio Lot and/or watch a live taping of a Sony Pictures production.

To the Grades of Green Family,

Because the health and well-being of our students, supporters, staff, and the broader community must come first, Grades of Green is announcing the postponement of Verte 2020 – our annual fundraising gala.

Like all of you, we’ve been closely monitoring the developing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and are taking every opportunity to ensure our students and staff remain safe. Staff will be working remotely starting today and will continue to support our students’ ongoing projects using the same virtual collaboration platforms that are already an integral part of our program. 

We’re currently working closely with our venue, vendors, and honorees to determine a new date and will provide you with further details as soon as they are confirmed.

To those who have donated items in support of Verte or have already purchased tickets and tables, thank you and don’t worry! We will be contacting you with more information.

On behalf of the Grades of Green Board of Directors, Staff, and our student Eco-Leaders, thank you for your understanding and continued support during this difficult time.

Please stay healthy and safe – together we’ll get through this!

Kim Siehl,

Executive Director 

Grades of Green hopes that you and your loved ones are safe during this difficult time!

We understand that many of your Campaign plans have changed with stay-at-home orders and increased social distancing efforts. Thus, Grades of Green will be extending the Waste Campaign deadline to May 15 to help teams navigate the difficulties caused by the Coronavirus. We understand that many of you may not be able to meet with your teams as easily or complete your project as it currently stands. Please reach out to your advisors to get help updating your project. We hope that this extension can help you continue to pursue your goal.

Please stay safe and thank you for doing your part to help the earth while staying safe at home!

Save your food scraps!

Did you know that the average person in the US wastes nearly 25% of the food they purchase? That’s like walking out of the grocery store with four bags of food and throwing one of them away before heading home.

Food waste is a serious issue, contributing to significant greenhouse gas emissions not to mention all the wasted water and energy used to produce that food. Plus, it’s simply bad etiquette! So how do we reduce food waste from our scraps?

Vegetable peels, ends, stems, skins, and washed roots are all used by chefs to create savory stocks to make risottos, sauces, and soup bases, among other things. So save your vegetable leftovers in containers in the fridge or freeze your leftovers until you have enough.

Today we’re going to show you how to whip up your own demi-glace sauce. Most root (carrots, parsnips), nightshade (eggplants, tomatoes), and leafy (kale) vegetables have a lot of umami packed into them, so they’re perfect to use before you compost them. By using these scraps instead of buying more ingredients for your dishes, you’re cutting down on the amount of food – and climate-costly resources – you use each year.

Recipe: Vegetarian Demi-Glace Sauce

Demi-glace or jus is a savory, thick sauce that can coat roasted vegetables, steaks, pasta, bread, mashed potatoes, or whatever you’d like. Traditionally, demi-glace sauces require a lot of space, time to reduce, and loads of meat to prepare. This vegetarian demi-glace has the ability to impart as much flavor (and possibly even more) as a traditional demi-glace because of the sheer amount of different umami compounds coming from different vegetable scraps with a fraction of the effort. With a little corn starch, pectin or xanthan gum, you can create the same texture of a nice gravy or slow-cooked sauce in an instant.

Best Leftovers for Glace:
Mushrooms, eggplants, broccoli, garlic, celery, cauliflower.

Ingredients to Use Sparingly:
(1 quart per 2 quarts others): Carrots, onions, parsnips, beets

Ingredients to Avoid:
Citrus scraps

Ingredients

• 4-5 quarts of veggie scraps (defrosted)
• 2 pieces of kombu (thick dried seaweed)
• 1 tablespoon of tomato puree
• 6-7 tablespoons of olive oil
• 2 ½ quarts of water (or until the veggies in the tray are covered)
• 1 teaspoon of pectin OR xanthan gum OR cornstarch*
• 1 pinch of salt.
* If using cornstarch, boil 1 cup of water and add 1 teaspoon of cornstarch before using.

Instructions

• Heat oven to 300° F or 149° C
• Mix all the veggie scraps, tomato puree, olive oil, and kombu very well in a tall baking tray. Spread out the veggies as well as you can for even cooking.
• Place the baking tray into the oven for 40 – 60 minutes. Check and stir the scraps every 20 minutes.
• Once the scraps look heavily browned with some burn marks, but aren’t completely black, place water in the baking tray. Be careful and do not burn yourself.
• Roast the tray again for 30 – 40 minutes
• While the tray is roasting, mix your xanthan gum/pectin/corn starch and salt. Stir well. *If using cornstarch, mix the cornstarch slushie with salt. Stir well.
• Remove the tray and strain the sauce into a pot. Use a ladle, pour, or a sieve. Please don’t burn yourself!
• On medium heat, reduce the sauce for 20 minutes.
• Add your xanthan gum/pectin/cornstarch and salt mix into the sauce. Stir well.

Sweet Potato Mash
– 1 1/2 lbs of sweet potatoes
– Coarse Kosher Salt
– 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
– 1 lemon

– Boil 1 1/2 Pounds of peeled sweet potatoes for 30 minutes.
– Remove the sweet potatoes from the boiling water and add honey and maple syrup. Blend together.
– Salt to taste, add more honey if needed. and blend together in a blender or in a pot with a hand blender. Salt to taste
– add a teaspoon of lemon juice to taste

Vegan Chili

How to read this recipe:
Look at all ingredients for Veracruz Sauce, Tomato Sauce, and prepare them all as dictated before starting. This chili is a combination of veracruz Sauce, Tomato sauce, and toppings together.
Follow the order as written.
If you need more salt flavor, add more miso, soy sauce, or salt before serving.

Veracruz Sauce:
Needs: Stovetop burner
8 Roma tomatoes (optional) sliced in half with cores removed
2 Red Bell peppers – Deseed and cut into large halves
2-3 Jalapenos – Deseed if you don’t like spicy
1 large yellow onion (or 2 small ones) – Cut in half

Instructions
– OPTIONAL: On your stove top burners, place the jalapenos, tomatoes (optional), onions, and red bell peppers over the flame. Place until relatively charred and blistered then rotate. Repeat until there is decent blistering over each ingredient. Reserve the veggies on the side
Note: Please open your windows and allow the air ventilation to prevent your home from becoming too smokey.

Tomato Sauce (cook both Pot and Sautee Pan at the same time)
Needs: One large stock pot for chili, one sautee pan for garlic
1 large can of crushed tomatoes/whole peeled tomatoes/diced tomatoes
1 spoonful of tomato puree
6 – 8 cloves of garlic crushed and minced
3 – 5 tablespoons of olive oil (enough to coat the bottom but not drown ingredients in 2 pots)
3 – 5 large spoonfuls of miso paste
2-3 Bay leaves

Instructions:
Needs: Large Pot w/ Lid
– Pour some of the olive oil into the sautee pan
– Pour reserved ingredients in and cook
– Add spoonful of tomato puree
– Cook for 5 – 10 minutes on high heat. Mix the veggies
– Add can of tomatoes, add a lid. When it start bubbling, mix and lower to medium heat
– Add your miso (Remember, if you want more salt, you can always add more miso, soy sauce, and salt later)
– Set aside your pot off the burner onto a stable platform.

Instructions:
Needs: Sautee pan (Do this while waiting for those 5 – 10 minutes in the instructions above)
– Add some olive oil into a pan and place on medium heat
– Add your garlic
– Wait until the garlic is browned
– Pour the olive oil and browned garlic into the large pot in the holding the chili in the instructions above
Instructions:
Needs: hand blender or blender
– Once you have combined the browned garlic from the sautee pan into the chili pot as noted the instructions above, move the entire pot onto a stable heat tolerant surface.
– Use a hand blender and blend the ingredients (you can pour the ingredients into a blender too)
– Return the blended ingredients to the chili pot and cook over medium heat.
– Add your bay leaves.

Toppings:
– 1-2 small cans of black beans (washed with cold water until it runs clear)
– 1-2 small cans of pinto beans (washed and dried)
– Optional: 4 Diced dried tofu (dou gan) blocks

Instructions:
– Add all ingredients into the large chili pot. Then place on medium high heat. When bubbly, reduce to low to medium-low.
– Stir and scrape the bottom to prevent burning.
– Cook and reduce for about 30 minutes to 1 ½ hours. If the chili can coat the back of a metal spoon, then it is ready.
– Taste repeatedly to see if the salt levels are correct. If it needs more salt, add salt or miso. If it needs less salt, add a touch of water.
Serve

Long Time Eco-Participants Graduate
The South Bay Team’s Isaiah and Gerard have participated in Grades of Green programs for the past 4 years. The two eco-leaders have partaken in Youth Corps challenges, Trash Free Lunches, and most recently, the 2019 Waste Campaign. The two have graduated from high school and plan to continue their environmental work at college!

Isaiah’s Accomplishments
Isaiah’s interest in the natural world led him to Grades of Green. He implemented the Native Garden activity at his old middle school to engage others in the practicality of environmental action. In addition, he created coloring books for younger elementary students to appreciate and foster respect for the natural environment. With his engineering talents, he built a Bluebird Sanctuary at his school and worked with two other clubs to produce and install artwork and poetry featuring the local birds of 90807. As if his resume wasn’t impressive enough, Isaiah finished his Grades of Green tenure by getting 2 hydration stations installed at his high school and was a semi-finalist in the 2018 Waste Campaign. In the Fall, Isaiah will be studying environmental engineering at University of Pennsylvania.

Gerard’s Accomplishments
Gerard partook in Trash Free Lunches on Tuesdays to reduce the effects of single-use plastics on the environment at lunch time. He proceeded to start up an environmental student store in school to increase incentives for students to partake in Trash Free Lunch. Students would save points for each Trash Free Lunch activity and spend their points on eco-products in the store. In the Fall, Gerard will attend University of California, Berkeley.