Grades of Green’s Waste Reduction Contest to Challenge Two Long Beach Schools


Image courtesy of Grades of Green.

Lunchtime trash can really pile up, so when it comes to environmental awareness, less can definitely mean more. That’s the lesson environmental education nonprofit Grades of Green wants to teach students as the nonprofit kicks off its fifth annual Trash Free Lunch Challenge (TFLC), the organization announced Tuesday.

This year’s TFLC marks its serving of the highest percentage of underserved schools in the Challenge’s history, with 65 percent Title 1 schools, according to the release. Two Long Beach schools, Will Rogers Middle School and Holy Innocents Parish School will participate in the Challenge alongside the 20 other participating schools in Southern California.

Since the initiative began five years ago, over 74 schools have diverted 100,000 bags of trash and while the numbers speak to the success of the participating schools in consideration of our environment, the real results are the environmental values the students take home.

“The goal of the Trash Free Lunch Challenge is to not only reduce waste, but also to teach kids how to reuse, recycle and compost,” said Grace Robinson Hyde, Sanitation District’s chief engineer and general manager, in a statement. “We hope they’ll develop and keep these habits for a lifetime.”

Participating schools will ask students to reduce what they trash by using reusable lunch containers, water bottles, and utensils, as well as cloth napkins. All students, including those who buy lunch, will be taught how to sort waste for recycling and composting. Through these actions, Challenge schools achieve a 72 percent average lunchtime waste diversion rate, with winning schools diverting over 92 percent, according to the release.

Last year’s winning schools received a visit from NBA All-Star Steve Nash and LA Galaxy player Omar Gonzalez. Winning schools also receive grant funding to continue their valiant environmental efforts.

“Our goal is to help our schools start sustainable green programs that instill environmental and waste reduction habits in our students,” said Kim Lewand Martin, one of Grades of Green’s founders and co-executive director, in a statement. “We are changing the course of the future by making environmental protection second nature in these young minds today.”

For more information about Grades of Green and the Challenge, click here.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.