We’ve all heard the rule that we shouldn’t feed wildlife, but what happens when the wildlife feed themselves human food? Green Team students at El Segundo Middle School noticed that birds would fly onto their campus and eat lunchtime waste from open trash bins and litter scattered across campus – food sources that are unhealthy for birds. Unfortunately, this trash eating habit is a common issue for birds near coastal schools.


Through the Waste Campaign, these eco-leaders determined that their solution is to educate their entire school community to properly sort their lunchtime waste between their compost, recycling, and landfill bins through classroom-to-classroom presentations. The team will also prevent birds from accessing the school’s waste by obtaining special lids for their bins and motivating their school community to keep their campus litter-free. This prevents litter from affecting the environment which would direct birds towards healthier food and more natural food sources.




Interested in implementing an eco-solution in your community like the El Segundo Middle School Green Team? Click here to sign up for the Fall 2019 Water Campaign wait list to receive more information about the program.

20 Los Angeles schools have been competing in Grades of Green’s 7th annual Trash Free Lunch Challenge, and have made some big changes! Grades of Green Team students are championing awesome waste reduction programs in their school communities, and are collectively diverting over 400 tons of trash from landfills. Each of these schools has truly embraced the program in their own way, and we are so proud of their efforts.

After careful review, we are proud to announce the 6 finalist schools!

Elementary School Finalists (in no particular order): Victor Elementary (Torrance), Charles Helmers Elementary (Santa Clarita), Our Lady of Guadalupe (Hermosa Beach)

Middle School Finalists (in no particular order): Oak Middle School (Los Alamitos), South Pointe Middle School (Walnut), Helen Keller dual immersion Middle School (Long Beach).

Winning schools will be selected at the end of March, and will be announced in April 2018.

Each school in the Trash Free Lunch Challenge was unique in their own way, and as such we are pleased to give the following awards of recognition:



Berkeley Hall K-8 – Best Compost Award

Carthay Center Elementary – Litter Busters Award

Castle Rock Elementary – Best Recycling Award

Cyrus J. Morris Elementary – Best Education Award

Evelyn Carr Elementary – Best Green Team Award

F.D. Roosevelt Elementary – Best Food Recovery Award

Gaspar de Portola Middle School – City Leaders Award

Jackie Robinson Academy K-8 – Green Leaders of Tomorrow Award

Nettie L. Waite Middle School – Most Determined Award

Overland Elementary – Greenest Community Award

St. Anthony K-8 – Green Stewards Award

Skyblue Mesa Elementary – Community Activists Award

Whittier Elementary – Most Inspirational

William F. Prisk Elementary – Super Sorters Award



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 GrummanLA Kings Care Foundation, Los Angeles County 4th District, the Carton Council, and the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation.

Check our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts next week to see who the 2017-2018 Trash Free Lunch Challenge winners will be!

Interested in registering your school for the 2018-2019 Trash Free Lunch Challenge? Email us at info@gradesofgreen.org for more information.

Are you interested in or already implementing Waste Sorting Stations at your school? Whether your waste sorting station is composed of a compost bucket, liquids bucket, recycling bins, landfill bins, and/or tray stacking, check out Grades of Green’s updated Waste Sorting Station Signage. Due to increasing demand from our 2017-2018 Trash Free Lunch Challenge schools, we updated our signs to include a “clean trays” and “dirty trays” sign. By separating the clean trays from the dirty trays, your custodial team can ensure clean trays are recycled.

If you need help implementing Waste Sorting Stations at your school, click here to schedule a meeting with one of our Advisors today!

I am truly proud of our Grades of Green Team.  It has been a great educational experience for our students to be mindful of the importance to recycle and dispose of waste properly.  Students making conscious decisions to dispose their waste appropriately has actually helped with another problem…  birds!  We’ve had a seagull issue for years.  Now that very little food is left on tables and the waste is primarily concentrated in several areas the birds are not really much of an issue now.

We should have done this program years ago! I love it! My back doesn’t hurt from throwing out all those bags of trash. I can’t believe we only have three bags of trash at lunch every day.