Our Journey to Reduced Waste Mrs. Gerson’s Second Grade Class 2012: Learning What Goes Where At the beginning of 1st grade, composting was new at school and it was a big change. We made posters to help us sort classroom and cafeteria waste into recycling, compost or trash. At first, we mostly cared about accurate sorting. We knew that reusing and recycling as much as possible would help the environment. The posters helped us sort correctly. We did well with composting and recycling, but we still had too much trash. We did a trash audit to find out why. We found tons of single serve plastic, milk cartons and snack packaging. We knew what we needed to do. REDUCE! We changed our trash-making habits into mindful habits; we packed food in lunch boxes with reusable containers, real flatware, water bottles, cloth snack bags and napkins. We paid special attention to planning birthday or holiday events in our class. We asked parents to “reduce” by not bringing things that would become landfill trash. Recycled paper Valentines. These cups are compostable. Creative snacks. 2013: Next Steps At the beginning of Second Grade, we really had cut down our trash, but we still had a stubborn amount of snack packaging. We brainstormed more about what to do. We asked experts. We joined forces with Terracycle, a company that reuses some of our snack packaging that our families still buy for convenience. One of many shipments to Terracycle. We also try to… • • • • • • • • • • Use recycled scrap paper for notes Use the whiteboard instead of paper Not waste markers Not laminate Print on 2 sides Blog instead of printing a newsletter Take the bus Sort our home waste better Make things out of leftover materials Use hand-me-downs This really worked! We went from a large trash can to a really small one, without a liner even. Notice we call it “landfill” now. We think twice, because stuff that goes there is forever. The results: our trash from an entire week! We are proud of our new thinking and all of our actions. We’ve changed the habits in our classroom and had a big effect on our families too. We wanted to persuade more people so we shared our ideas and habits with all of the other CCS classrooms. We realized that we had become leaders on the journey to reduce waste. We won’t only do this in second grade, we’ll do this forever. We want to inspire others to take on these habits. We really believe that it will make a difference to our planet. Thank you for your time! Do you have questions for us?