Since 2011, Grades of Green has worked with schools across southern California to divert 1,740 tons of waste from landfills by setting up waste sorting stations, composting, and more through the Trash Free Lunch Challenge program! This spring, Grades of Green is expanding our waste reduction program to empower 200 student teams across the globe to tackle regional waste issues.
Starting in January, Grades of Green is launching our four-month Waste Campaign for 6th-12th grade students to engage eco-heroes across the globe to take action to reduce waste and develop sustainable, student-led solutions to waste issues relevant to their region. A Waste Campaign Team (a group of students, educators and community leaders) researches local waste issues, develops a solution to a water issue, and shares that idea with the community. Thanks to our sponsors, this program is free to all students, and Grades of Green will even provide personalized virtual mentorship, student leadership training, webinars featuring waste experts, waste conservation resources, and the opportunity to connect with other participating teams across the globe. Winning Campaign Teams, announced in April, will also receive up to $1,000 in Eco-Grant prizes to fund their innovative solutions. Check out this video to learn more!
The Waste Campaign is open to 200 teams of students across the globe. Campaign teams can come from schools, after-school programs, sports teams, community teams, and more! Each team needs at least 5 student members and one adult lead to supervise.
Do you know three students that are up for the challenge? Nominate them now! To join the Waste Campaign, have an adult lead complete this Google Form by January 11th!
REGISTER FOR THE SPRING WASTE CAMPAIGN HERE!
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 County, Lush Cosmetics, Northrop Grumman, LA Kings Care Foundation, Los 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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
After reducing their school’s lunchtime waste by 82% and diverting over 32,000 pounds of waste from landfills, Helen Keller Middle School was crowned the winning middle school of the 2018 Trash Free Lunch Challenge! Grades of Green celebrated Keller’s success with specials guests from the community. Board of Education Member Diana Craighead, Deputy Superintendent of Middle School Instruction Dr. Jill Baker, George Tsai from the Office of the Superintendent of Middle School Instruction, and Representative Herlinda Chico from Supervisor Hahn’s office all came to the campus congratulate the Helen Keller students on their hard work and achievements. Helen Keller’s Grades of Green Advisor, Cathy Procopio, gave a speech on why the deserved to win, such as the leadership of their outstanding student leaders. Upon recognizing each student on the Grades of Green Team with a certificate for the City of Long Beach, the school was presented with a $1,000 education grant from Northrop Grumman! After the presentations DJ Ozzie led a dance party with music and the students got to take photos with the Kings Ice Crew!
Interested in following in Helen Keller’s footsteps but don’t know where to start? Try setting up a “Share Box” in your cafeteria for unopened and unwanted cafeteria food and drinks. Anyone wishing to eat items from the Share Box may do so, and this prevents the food from going to waste! To read more about this idea, check out our Waste Sorting Station Activity.
Do you think your school has what it takes to win Grades of Green’s Trash Free Lunch Challenge? Email email@example.com for more information on how to join the 2019 Trash Free Lunch Challenge!
Grades of Green is honored to mentor 20 Los Angeles schools competing in our 7th annual Trash Free Lunch Challenge! Each school participates by setting up a Grades of Green Team, and developing a waste reduction program consisting of Trash Free Lunches and Waste Sorting Stations. After conducting an eco-consultation at the beginning of the school year with their Grades of Green Advisor, each school received a customized report with recommendations for rolling out a sustainable, student led program. Each school then received a school-wide assembly to generate excitement around their waste reduction program and educate students on how to utilize their school’s new waste sorting station as well as pack trash free lunches.
All schools averaged a waste reduction rate of 67% on just their first day of kicking off the program! These rock star schools are collectively on track to divert a total of 4,950 pounds of waste from landfills every day. It’s now up to each school to continue educating their students, maintain their waste sorting stations, and improve their waste reduction rate. In March, a panel of environmental experts will decide which middle and elementary school will win the 2017-2018 Trash Free Lunch Challenge and take home a $1,000 grant to improve their environmental programs.
Thank you to our sponsors who helped make this year’s program possible: LA County Sanitation District, Lush, Northrop Grumman, LA County 3rd District, LA County 4th District, City of Santa Monica, Carton Council, Johnson Ohana Foundation, LA Kings Care Foundation
Interested in helping your school reduce its waste? Click here to register and check out Grades of Green’s Waste Activities! Want to take one of our Activities and turn it into a student powered movement? Click here to check out our latest Facebook Webinar on how to create a movement!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
At Grades of Green, we are often asked if our lunchtime waste reduction activity can be successful at bigger schools, such as middle schools. Great news – schools with a high student population can make a big dent in waste reduction! Los Angeles middle schools participating in our Trash Free Lunch Challenge, such as Robinson K-8 Academy from Long Beach Unified School District, constantly remind us that all kids have the potential to care for the environment no matter what their age. Robinson K-8 Academy started off the 2017-2018 school year with approximately 1,000 students generating sixty bags of lunchtime trash.
After a school-wide assembly demonstrating Robinson K-8 Academy’s new waste sorting system, the school worked together as a community to decrease their lunchtime trash. The Female Leadership Academy students championed the effort, and helped form a Grades of Green Team. The student leaders taught peers where each lunchtime item went between a donation box, liquids bucket, compost bucket, recycling bin, and landfill bin. They even trained their younger elementary school level Grades of Green Team members how to be waste sorting monitors. At the end of the day, the entire Robinson K-8 Academy Grades of Green team helped their school reduce its lunchtime trash from sixty bags down to just seven! That’s a whopping 88% waste reduction in just one day.
Interested in signing up your school for an eco-competition? Click here to learn more about Grades of Green’s Spring 2018 Water Challenge, and email us at email@example.com for more details!
This year, twenty Los Angeles schools are competing in Grades of Green’s Trash Free Lunch Challenge to see who can be the best at reducing their lunchtime waste the most by inspiring kids to care for the environment. Over the past seven years, the Trash Free Lunch Challenge has supported 117 schools divert 2,300 tons of waste. Schools are making such a big difference that the story was picked up by a local publication! Check out the article featured in Southern California Sustainable Living to read more about the program, and get inspired to go trash free in your home or school!
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!
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.