The Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County
have partnered with Grades of Green to launch a “Trash Free Lunch Challenge”
offered to schools within the Sanitation Districts. The challenge encourages
schools to focus on reducing lunchtime trash and also educates students about
the 3Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Students are encouraged to bring their
lunches in reusable containers and to use cloth napkins rather than paper
ones.  Students who buy their lunches can
also participate by sorting waste into recycling and composting. “The goal
of the program is to not only reduce trash at schools, but to educate kids,
hoping they’ll develop positive recycling habits for a lifetime,” states
Steve Maguin, Chief Engineer and General Manager of the Sanitation Districts.

Any school within the Sanitation Districts’
service area was eligible to participate, receiving this flyer.  The first qualified
twelve schools to register received an Eco Starter Kit worth more than $1,500
from Grades of Green, an Eco Audit by Grades of Green, and assistance
developing a project plan to implement a Trash Free Lunch Program at their
school. The twelve schools then participated in a TFLC Training Session event
held at the Sanitation Districts in November where they received training on
how to implement a Trash Free Lunch and Composting program at their school and
also got to tour of a landfill and recycling facility. Principals, teachers,
parent volunteers, and students all participated in the Training Session and
were enthusiastic about reducing trash at their schools.

The twelve schools must implement the Trash Free Lunch program by March
15, 2012 and submit the Final Judging Criteria Information to Grades of
Green. Two schools will be chosen as the
finalists and a panel of environmental experts and other judges will evaluate
the implementation and success of these two programs. The winning school will
receive a Chevron Grand Prize of a $1,000 education grant.

Besides the prizes, there are other great reasons
for schools to participate. For example, in Manhattan Beach, California, five
elementary schools reduced their lunchtime trash by 84.2% using the Grades of
Green’s Trash Free Lunch Program, those schools saved over $10,000 in trash
supplies (e.g., trash liners) and trash hauler expenses in one year.

Also, check out all the articles about the Trash
Free Lunch Challenge in the local papers.

The Whittier Daily News

The Signal Tribune

Easy Reader

South Bay Environmental Services Center Newsletter

Redondo Beach Patch

Palos Verdes Patch