After months of sorting lunchtime waste, hosting educational assemblies on waste reduction, and packing trash free lunches, Grades of Green’s 7th annual Trash Free Lunch Challenge finalist schools have been selected – with all schools, including Charles Helmers and Skyblue Mesa elementary schools, diverting a whopping 463 tons of waste from local landfills.
20 schools located in the greater Los Angeles area entered the Trash Free Lunch Challenge in fall 2017 to see which school could divert the most waste and best inspire their student body to adopt lifelong waste reduction habits. Grades of Green provided each school with a personalized advisor, leadership training webinars for student leaders, an educational assembly, an eco-starter kit, and a customized waste reduction plan. Grades of Green Team student leaders ask peers to reduce trash by bringing reusable lunch containers and using lunchtime sorting stations; forming habits that will protect the environment for years to come.
As in past years, the schools exceeded expectations. The Trash Free Lunch Challenge schools collectively diverted over 46,300 bags of trash from local landfills – and more impressive than trash bag reduction is the students that made it happen. The schools educated over 13,000 students on waste reduction. Each of these students, including those who buy lunch, learned to sort waste into share box/food donation, compost, liquids, recyclables, landfill waste, and tray stacking. This year’s Challenge schools achieved a 66% percent average lunchtime waste diversion rate.
The finalist schools from the elementary school category and middle school category are:
Elementary Schools (in no particular order):
Charles Helmers Elementary (Santa Clarita)
Our Lady of Guadalupe K-8 (Hermosa Beach) Victor Elementary School (Torrance)
Middle Schools (in no particular order):
Helen Keller dual immersion Middle School (Long Beach) Oak Middle School (Los Alamitos)
South Pointe Middle School (Walnut)
Environmental Experts from the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, Northrop Grumman, the County of Los Angeles Sustainability department, Algalita Marine Research and Education, Surfrider – South Bay Chapter and others will sit on the Trash Free Lunch Challenge Judges Panel. The panel will meet and discuss each of the finalist school’s applications in late March to decide upon a winner. The winning elementary and middle school will each receive a $1,000 education grants to continue their environmental programs.
Grades of Green will also be awarding the following recognitions to these participants:
Berkeley Hall K-8 (Los Angeles) – Best Compost Award
Carthay Center Elementary (Los Angeles) – Litter Busters Award
Castle Rock Elementary (Diamond Bar)– Best Recycling Award
Cyrus J. Morris Elementary (Walnut) – Best Education Award
Evelyn Carr Elementary (Torrance)– Best Green Team Award
F.D. Roosevelt Elementary (Lawndale) – Best Food Recovery Award
Gaspar de Portola Middle School (Tarzana) – City Leaders Award
Jackie Robinson Academy K-8 (Long Beach) – Green Leaders of Tomorrow Award Nettie L. Waite Middle School (Norwalk)– Most Determined Award
Overland Elementary (Los Angeles) – Greenest Community Award
St. Anthony K-8 (Long Beach)– Green Stewards Award
Skyblue Mesa Elementary (Canyon Country) – Community Activists Award
Whittier Elementary (Long Beach)– Most Inspirational
William F. Prisk Elementary (Long Beach) – Super Sorters Award
“The goal of the Trash Free Lunch Challenge is not only to reduce waste but also to teach children how to reuse, recycle and compost. Educating students through programs such as these furthers our mission of converting waste into resources in the communities we serve,” said Grace Robinson Hyde, Sanitation Districts’ Chief Engineer and General Manager.
“We are so impressed with the student leadership at our Trash Free Lunch Challenge schools,” said Allie Bussjaeger, Grades of Green’s Director of Regional Programs. “These students have gone above and beyond to inspire their campus communities to reduce waste. From delivering classroom presentations, to hosting grade level competitions, to making educational videos, these students are making waste reduction easy and fun!”
What is Grades of Green’s Trash Free Lunch Challenge?
Grades of Green’s Trash Free Lunch Challenge is a yearlong competition where Southern California schools challenge each other to see which school can reduce the most lunchtime waste. Grades of Green teaches students to reduce trash by bringing reusable lunch containers and using lunchtime waste sorting systems. This ultimately forms habits that will protect the environment for years to come. Through fun, educational assemblies, personalized eco-starter kits, waste reduction plans, and Grades of Green Advisors available to personally guide each school, Grades of Green helps create an environment where every school can be a winner! A panel of environmental experts will evaluate the implementation and success of the three finalists’ trash reduction programs. The winning schools (one elementary and one middle school) will receive a Grand Prize of a $1,000 education grant. Click here to learn more about the Challenge.
Sponsors of the Trash Free Lunch Challenge include: Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, Lush Cosmetics, Northrop Grumman, Kings Care Foundation, Los Angeles County 4th District, Carton Council, and the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation.
About Grades of Green
GRADES OF GREEN is an environmental education nonprofit dedicated to providing parents, students and educators with free, fun and hands-on Grades of Green Activities to inspire and empower students to care for the environment. Anyone wanting to implement sustainability programs can register their school online—at no cost—to gain access to step-by-step instructions to 40+ Grades of Green Activities, including downloadable games, resources, and artwork, and measure their environmental progress. Even better? Every Grades of Green school receives a one-on-one Grades of Green Advisor to mentor the school as they implement Grades of Green Activities. Join the 511,000+ students and 650+ schools in our green school movement and register at gradesofgreen.org today.
About the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County
The Sanitation Districts are a regional agency consisting of 24 independent special districts serving over 5.6 million people in 78 cities and unincorporated territory within Los Angeles County. The Sanitation Districts protect public health and the environment through innovative and cost-effective wastewater and solid waste management, and in doing so convert waste into resources such as recycled water, energy, and recycled materials.
For more information on the Sanitation Districts, please visit www.lacsd.org or contact Wendy Wert at 562.908.4288 X2308.