Teaching children healthy eating habits is one thing, but what about teaching them healthy disposal habits?
Americans discarded nearly 34 million tons of food waste in 2010, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. When five New York City parents saw how much food waste was being hauled out of local schools and tossed into landfills, they decided to take matters into their own hands.
Emily Fano, Pamela French, Lisa Maller, Jennifer Prescott and Laura Sametz began the District 3 Composting Pilot program this past February. The parents, in conjunction with the district’s Green Schools Group, decided to pilot the four month program in eight schools, which taught the schools’ 3,628 kids which foods they can compost and sought to educate administrators, teachers and food workers the importance of greening their disposal habits.
Plus, the group’s members were instrumental in replacing environmentally harmful polystyrene trays with a compostable sugar cane-based substitute in the eight pilot schools, saving over 1,900 polystyrene trays from entering the waste stream.
The move reduced the eight pilot schools’ cafeteria waste by an astounding 85 percent. That number benefits the environment and the district, saving 450 pounds of food waste from landfills each day and saving an estimated $3,000 in garbage bags and $3,700 in disposal fees for the pilot schools each year.
The team hopes the program will be expanded to the entire NYC school system, which would save public schools $1 million in garbage bags and $1.1 million in disposal fees annually, the group estimates – money that could easily be used for other education expenses.