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 firstname.lastname@example.org.