As head of security for the Sanitation Districts of LA County (LACSD) in Whittier, Rowland Becerra has become all too familiar with the processing of solid waste and recycling.

Being an employee with the LACSD for about eight years, Becerra has witnessed the growth of Grades of Green, and gained an admiration for the organization’s drive to encourage young students to become active with recycling and sustainability.

“I remember the first year that Grades of Green was here, it was a lot smaller,” Becerra said. “I remember we had one table here and there were a few kids, it wasn’t as crazy as it is now. Last year was the first year where three tables were outside, and you saw a massive crowd. It’s nice to see the program grow, especially because it gives back to the community a lot and a lot of kids don’t recycle.”

After viewing the practices of Grades of Green, Becerra, who is also a public safety comissioner for the city of Lynwood, wondered if the schools in his district were taking part in setting up recycling programs for their students.

Becerra’s curiosity drove him to investigate and participate in a walk through for the Lynwood district to see if there was any progress.

“We did a walk-through about two or three weeks ago in Lynwood, and I couldn’t believe there were no recycling bins. Nothing,” he said.

Last week, Grades of Green made their way back to the LACSD for their annual Trash Free Lunch Challenge (TFLC) Training Session. The TFLC training session educates and encourages schools to limit the amount of trash that builds up during lunchtime.

Throughout the session, schools are informed of the importance of the four R’s, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot, and are enlightened on the significance of urging students to bring trash free lunches.

Becerra took note of this and was encouraged to get the schools of the Lynwood district on board.

“I’ve seen this program the last couple of years develop into a bigger program and I was like why isn’t my city involved? Why don’t I see my community out here?” Becerra said. “So when I got involved with my city, I started suggesting, bringing up different ideas, thinking outside the box a bit, and so I suggested Grades of Green.”

After attempts for almost two years, Becerra was finally able to get the teachers of Cesar Chavez Middle School involved, making this year their first attendance to a TFLC training session by Grades of Green.

Becerra hopes that their attendance will encourage their school to take on sustainable acts, and that word of the Grades of Green organization will spread throughout the district of Lynwood.