In just one year, Grades of Green can help an entire school transform student attitudes on waste reduction. Last year, Cesar Chavez Elementary from Long Beach Unified School District competed in Grades of Green’s 2016-2017 Trash Free Lunch Challenge. At the beginning of the Challenge, the school created twenty-five bags of lunchtime trash. Grades of Green challenged the school to set up a sorting station composed of a share box for uneaten cafeteria food, a compost bin for fruit and veggie scraps, a recycling bin, a landfill bin, and a tray-stacking station. Not only did students help create the stations, but they were instrumental in making sure it was utilized properly. Lead teacher, Sherri Gonser, developed a schedule so that students from every class could help support and maintain the program. From there, additional students from all grade levels became spontaneously enthusiastic and involved as they saw the impact of their efforts. Today the school produces only 7 bags of trash a day – a 72% waste reduction! Cesar Chavez Elementary students became so accurate at lunchtime sorting that they won the title of “Best Super Sorters” in the 2016-2017 Trash Free Lunch Challenge.
After the Challenge ends, schools have the opportunity to focus on the long-term continuity of their waste reduction program. To help keep students excited and involved in waste reduction, Cesar Chavez Elementary applied for and won a grant that will be used to upgrade their waste reduction program. The school plans on using the grant to purchase new bins, a canopy to provide shade over their waste sorting stations, and even Grades of Green Team T-shirts for the entire school! Congratulations Cesar Chavez!
Interested in having your school compete in an eco-challenge? Join Grades of Green’s Spring 2018 Water Challenge to see how much water your school can save! For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.