Did you know that 30-40% of food in the US is wasted, or that reducing the amount of food waste sent to the landfill results in both water and energy savings? Check out this episode on Food Waste by Curiosity Quest to learn all about the food industry and how waste is managed! The episode features Grades of Green Eco-Leaders and waste sorting experts Ashely, Tiana, and Audrey from Macy Intermediate in Monterey Park. Grades of Green communities like the city of Manhattan Beach are also featured!

Interested in reducing food waste in your school or community? Email info@gradesofgreen.org for information on our Spring 2018 Waste Campaign!

The results are in, and Grades of Green is thrilled to share the 7th annual Trash Free Lunch Challenge final report! Click here for the report which includes a summary detailing the success of each participating Los Angeles school, and highlights from this year. Collectively, the 2017-2018 Trash Free Lunch Challenge has educated and inspired over 13,000 students on how to reduce, reuse, recycle and rot (compost); saved schools over $11,500 by reducing trash bag liners used and waste hauler fees; and empowered participating schools to divert over 46,300 bags of trash, or 463 tons from the landfill.  That’s the same weight as 116 African elephants! On average, this year’s schools diverted 65% of their lunch waste from the landfills, and winning schools reduced their waste by over 80%.

This program would not be possible without the support of our amazing sponsors. We thank the following:  Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles CountyLush CosmeticsNorthrop Grumman,  LA Kings Care FoundationLos Angeles County 4th District, the Carton Council, and the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation.

Inspired and interested in starting an environmental movement in your school or community? Sign up for Grades of Green’s Water Campaign kicking off in August 2018! Email info@gradesofgreen.org for more information.

At Grades of Green, our mission is to inspire and empower kids to care for the environment, so when a group of passionate students at a school want to get involved, we are thrilled! After a few Girl Scouts at Prisk Elementary from Long Beach Unified School District learned about the negative impacts waste has on our environment, they were inspired to lead Grades of Green’s Trash Free Lunch Challenge to help their school reduce its waste. The Girl Scouts formed a student Grades of Green Team with their peers to teach proper lunchtime sorting habits and encourage students to pack trash free lunches.

After learning some best practices in implementing waste sorting stations and encouraging students to pack trash free lunches, the Prisk Green Team helped lead an educational assembly highlighting their school’s new waste sorting system. Green Team students held up actual examples of lunchtime items and taught students which bin the items would go in between a food donation box, liquids bucket, compost bin, recycling bin, landfill bin, and tray stacking box. They even took volunteer shifts at lunchtime to make sure there were sorting monitors to help each student sort their waste. At the end of their first day implementing the waste reduction program, the Prisk student Green Team was able to help their school go from fifteen bags of lunchtime trash down to just six!

Inspired to implement a student-led eco-program at your school? Sign up for Grades of Green’s Spring 2018 Water Challenge by clicking here, or email us at info@gradesofgreen.org for more information.



Franklin Elementary from Santa Monica began its eco-friendly journey with Grades of Green back in 2013 and has continued to lead the way as green school ever since. Franklin competed in Grades of Greens 2013-2014 Trash Free Lunch Challenge. After reducing and diverting lunchtime waste by packing trash free lunches and adding in liquids, recycling, and composting bins in addition to their landfill bins, the school was able to reduce their lunchtime waste by 90%, earning them the “Above and Beyond” award.

Franklin Elementary has since taken on many of Grades of Green Activities. Not only do Frankin students pack trash free and recycle at lunchtime, but they also host an annual recycling event every year to encourage students to  recycle electronic waste.  Students are even encouraged to walk/bike/ride to school instead of driving.

In fall 2017, Franklin Elementary hosted an education night where parents and students learned different ways to reduce their everyday waste. Crayon Collection taught students how they could donate used crayons to schools in need instead of throwing them away while Grades of Green reminded students how to correctly use their recycling, composting, and landfill bins on campus.

Interested in having your school take on one of Grades of Green’s Activities? Click here to unlock Grades of Green’s 40+ Activities and receive one-on-one guidance from a Grades of Green Advisor!

Charles Helmers Elementary from Saugus Unified School District recently kicked off their waste reduction program by participating in Grades of Green’s Trash Free Lunch Challenge – and they are in it to win it! Before entering the Challenge, the school of nearly one thousand students had no waste sorting system and created seventeen bags of landfill trash every day. After attending the Trash Free Lunch Challenge Training Day in October, parent and student representatives of the Helmers Elementary Green Team brainstormed a waste sorting system that would perfectly fit their school.

By the time Charles Helmers Elementary kicked off the Trash Free Lunch Challenge in late October, their Green Team decided on a waste sorting system composed of a clear food donation box, a blue liquids only bucket, a green general recycling bin, a yellow plastic bottles only recycling bin, a red aluminum cans only recycling bin, a grey landfill bin, and a tray stacking box. To help students identify which lunchtime items go in which container, the Helmers Green Team created a color-coded visual aid with examples of common lunchtime items from home. Items found in the green section should be placed in the green general recycling bin, items in the yellow section should be placed in the yellow plastic bottles only recycling bin, items in the red section should be placed in the red aluminum cans only recycling bin, and all other items should be placed in the landfill bin if they can’t be donated. On the back side of their visual aid was a whiteboard sign-up sheet for any students interested in volunteering as a lunchtime sorting monitor.

After Grades of Green gave the entire school an assembly on the 4 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot) and demonstrated their new waste sorting system, students were motivated to reach their daily goal of eight bags of landfill trash. With the help of several student Green Team lunchtime sorting monitors and their color-coded visual aid, Charles Helmers Elementary decreased their lunchtime landfill trash from seventeen bags down to just three!

Interested in having your school compete in an eco-challenge? Sign up for Grades of Green’s Spring 2018 Water Challenge! Click here for more information, or email us at info@gradesofgreen.org.