In the spirit of eco-competitions and the new year, Grades of Green decided to host a Zero Waste Week Challenge between our Los Angeles and New York-based offices to see which group could create the least amount of waste over the first week of 2018! Both offices collected all of their trash and recyclables to be weighed and the number of pieces to be counted at the end of the week.

After conducting a litter audit report, we decided that there was a tie between both offices!

Although the Los Angeles office had less weight, the New York office had less pieces of trash. Both office teams utilized eco-friendly strategies such as buying food in bulk, using reusable items, attending farmers markets, and refusing single use items when possible. Check out the stats below:

Los Angles

# pieces: 60+

Weight: 1.5 pounds

New York

# pieces: 48

Weight: 4.5 pounds

Interested in creating a zero-waste movement? Tune into Grades of Green’s live Facebook webinar on February 1st to learn how you can start a movement of your own!

At Grades of Green, we love a good eco-competition. Each school year, we host our Trash Free Lunch Challenge to see which school in southern California can be the best at reducing its lunchtime waste. In addition, we host our Water Challenge every semester to see which school across the globe can be the best at reducing its water usage. In the spirit of eco-competitions and the new year, Grades of Green decided to host a Zero Waste Week Challenge between our Los Angeles and New York-based offices to see which office could create the least amount of waste over the first week of 2018!

Here were the rules of Grades of Green’s Zero Waste Challenge Week:

1. Collect all single-use packaging and containers in a collection bin at the office and a bin at home.

2. Wash out all dirty containers before putting them in the bin.

3.Recyclable single-use containers are still counted as waste and should be collected. Why? Recycling takes up our natural resources, and only a small percentage of what is put in the recycling actually ends up being recycled. Only 9% of plastic waste is actually recycled!

4. Food waste can be composted and doesn’t count in the Challenge.

5. Sanitary items (such as toilet paper) don’t count in the Challenge.

Which office do you think won the Zero Waste Week Challenge, Los Angeles or New York? Check out our social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) on Tuesday, January 16 to find out which Grades of Green office will earn the title of Zero Waste Week Challenge champions! Feeling inspired? Check out Grades of Green’s Waste Activities and encourage your school community to go zero waste too!

The 2017-2018 Trash Free Lunch Challenge officially kicked off at our 7th annual Training Day event. Grades of Green Team representatives from the 23 Los Angeles schools competing in this year’s Challenge visited the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County to explore best practices in helping their school to decrease lunchtime waste. The Sanitation Districts gave attendees a tour of the closed down Puente Hills Landfill and Materials Recovery Facility to give the students, teachers, parents, custodial staff, and administrators alike a better understanding of how waste is managed, and the importance of reducing waste.

Along with the tour, school representatives came away from training day with a Trash Free Lunch Challenge Handbook, the inside scoop about best practices for the Challenge, and big prize bag of goodies from our partners including products from AlgalitaDabbawalla BagsFunkins, Dopper, Green ToysGo Green LunchboxLegends Socks, To Go Ware, Klean Kanteen, Planet Wise and U Konserve.

Interested in seeing Training Day in action? Click here to check out the photos!

Thank you to our incredible partners who help us bring the Trash Free Lunch Challenge to life. A special shout out to the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles CountyNorthrop Grumman, City of Santa Monica,  County of Los Angeles 3rd district, County of Los Angeles 4th district, Kings Care Foundation, Carton Council, and the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation for making the Trash Free Lunch Challenge possible!

Interested in getting the inside scoop on some of the best practices discussed at Training Day? One of the crucial components of the Trash Free Lunch Challenge is setting up a solid Grades of Green Team. Join us for a free, interactive webinar on October 12th, 2017 to learn best practices! For more information about the Getting Started Webinar, click here.

Grades of Green is thrilled to be partnering with 22 Los Angeles elementary, middle and K-8 schools in our 7th annual Trash Free Lunch Challenge. Each year, schools compete to see who can be the best at inspiring and empowering students to care for the environment by reducing their lunchtime waste. Stemming from Grades of Green’s Trash Free Lunches Activity, the Challenge encourages students to reduce, reuse and recycle to create a healthier environment. On average, participating schools reduce their trash by 72%, and winning schools reduce by over 90%. Grades of Green is able to support 25 schools in this year’s Challenge, meaning we have just 3 spots left!

Interested in getting your school involved in the Trash Free Lunch Challenge? Email us today if you’d like to learn more and to save your spot at

The 2017-2018 school year is underway, and the Grades of Green staff is thrilled to be visiting our awesome schools again! Many schools who have competed in Grades of Green’s Los Angeles based Trash Free Lunch Challenge have invited us to help them kick off the new school year on a “green” foot through an assembly. During our waste reduction assembly, we explain the importance of caring for the earth, and how students can make a difference by reducing, reusing, and recycling. Students learn how packing trash free, composting, and recycling leads to a healthier planet, and how easy it is to make these little changes a daily habit.

Interested in getting your school involved in the Trash Free Lunch Challenge? There are still a few spots left! Email us today if you are interested in learning more at

Grades of Green is proud to announce the grand prize winners of the 6th annual Trash Free Lunch Challenge! After a panel of environmental experts visited the top three middle schools and the top three elementary schools, the winners were selected. Winning schools were chosen based on how well the Grades of Green team inspired and educated their campus community about the importance of reducing waste, how much waste the school is diverting from landfills, and how the program will be sustained and expanded upon in the future.

Selecting the winners was no easy task. And the winners are…
In the middle school category, Lindbergh STEM Academy in Long Beach! Lindbergh launched a comprehensive waste reduction program, including donating uneaten food to local shelters daily and composting fruit and vegetable scraps on campus. The Grades of Green Team students meet weekly, and caring for the environment is explored through science projects, art, and more.  The school even reached out to their local city council members to involve them in the program. Congratulations Lindbergh!

In the elementary school category, the winner is McGaugh Elementary School in Seal Beach! The McGaugh community has made the Trash Free Lunch Challenge a permanent part of the campus culture. Three sorting stations are available to students daily, and student leaders monitor sorting stations to help their peers sort correctly. Student Grades of Green Team leaders host raffles to encourage kids to pack trash free lunches, and visit classrooms to manage paper, aluminum, and plastic recycling. Way to go McGaugh!

Congratulations to all of our schools! To read all about the success of the Trash Free Lunch Challenge winning schools, check out the links here: From the Desk of Councilmember Al Austin II,

Inspired by Lindbergh and McGaugh? Grades of Green is now recruiting schools to participate in the 2017-2018 Trash Free Lunch Challenge! Email us at today to learn more!

Checkout the new Grades of Green resource for schools below! 

One of Grades of Green’s signature activities is Trash Free Lunches, and while we encourage every student everywhere to bring their food and drinks to school in reusable containers, we know that many students receive their lunch from school cafeterias each day. So how can these students reduce their waste? Through a Grades of Green sorting station! Creating a sorting station is a great way to educate students on where their waste goes, what items can and cannot be recycled, composted, and more. For ideas on how to set up a sorting station for your school, click here, and check out our Trash Free Lunches website activity for more details. Is your school located in Southern California? If so you may be eligible to participate in our Trash Free Lunch Challenge – email us at to learn more about how you can get involved!