A record 24 L.A.-area schools will compete this year in Grades of Green’s third annual Trash-Free Lunch Challenge.  The program, which will teach more than 17,000 students how to reduce lunchtime trash, has more than doubled in scope since its inception two years ago.

Participating schools will ask students to eliminate trash by using reusable lunch containers, reusable water bottles and cloth napkins. All students, including those who buy lunch, will be taught how to sort waste for recycling and composting.

The 24 schools participating in this year’s Trash-Free Lunch Challenge include:

  • Arlington Elementary School
  • Aveson Charter School
  • Chaparral Elementary School
  • Diamond Ranch High School
  • Echo Horizon School
  • Foster Road Elementary School
  • Franklin Elementary School
  • Grant Elementary School
  • Jane Addams Middle School
  • Jefferson Leadership Academies
  • John Adams Middle School
  • Jordan Middle School
  • Leuzinger High School
  • Linwood Howe Elementary School
  • Lowell Elementary School
  • Magruder Middle School
  • McKinley Elementary School
  • Oakmont Outdoor School
  • Parras Middle School
  • Rice Elementary School
  • St. John Fisher Parish School
  • Verdugo Woodlands Elementary School
  • Vista del Valle Elementary School


In just two years, the Trash-Free Lunch Challenge has diverted as many as 40,000 bags of trash from area landfills and saved schools thousands of dollars over two years. “With 24 schools in this year’s program, we expect to see nearly 33,000 more bags of trash diverted from the new schools alone,” said Lisa Coppedge, Grades of Green’s Director of Programs. “But what’s more important is that more than 17,000 students will learn how to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost–new habits that will protect the environment in the years to come.”

The competition gets underway October 2, when representatives from each school will attend a training session and tour of the Sanitation Districts’ Puente Hills Landfill and Materials Recovery Facility.  Once the competing schools implement their Trash-Free Lunch programs, Grades of Green selects three finalists through an application process. A panel of environmental experts and other judges will evaluate the implementation and success of the three finalists’ programs.  The winning school will receive a Grand Prize of a $1,000 education grant.  The second- and third-place schools will receive $750 and $500, respectively.  Last year’s Grand Prize was awarded to Lunada Bay Elementary School in Palos Verdes Estates, which succeeded in reducing its lunchtime trash by 87.5%.

Though the deadline has passed to compete in this year’s Trash-Free Lunch Challenge, any school may still initiate a Trash-Free Lunch program.  Complete instructions are available at no cost to schools at www.gradesofgreen.org/initiatives/trash-redux/trash-free-tuesdays.

Sponsors of the Trash-Free Lunch Challenge include the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, City of Santa Monica, LAcarGUY, Warner Brothers, Wean Green, Don Knabe representing the 4th District of Los Angeles, and the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation. Chevron provides the education grants.

To read more about The Challenge, check it out in the following press: