Students at McKinley Elementary School are getting a lesson in sustainability by helping to divert lunchtime trash from entering landfills.
For their efforts the school has been named a finalist in environmental nonprofit Grades for Green’s Trash-Free Lunch Challenge, it was announced this week.
Sponsored in part by the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, the program teaches kids to reduce trash and care for the environment by using reusable lunch containers and by sorting compostable and recyclable materials.
Lowell Elementary School in Long Beach and Vista del Valle Elementary School in Claremont were also selected from a group of 24 entrants countywide.
The Trash-Free Lunch Challenge has diverted 100,000 bags of trash from area landfills and saved schools thousands of dollars in trash liners and waste hauler pick-ups over three years, Grades for Green said.
A judging panel of five environmental experts will visit the three elementary schools to select the winner on April 3, and the winning school will be honored with a celebration on April 29. All schools will receive education grants from Chevron. The winning school will receive a $1,000 grant. The two runners-up will each receive a $750 grant.
Additional sponsors include the city of Santa Monica, LAcarGUY, Fourth District County of Los Angeles Supervisor Don Knabe, Warner Brothers, Wean Green, and the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation.
“The finalists … have cut waste 80 percent on average. The judging panel will have a challenging time picking the winners,” said Grace Robinson Hyde, Sanitation Districts’ chief engineer and general manager. “With 24 schools participating in this year’s program, more than 13,000 students have been inspired to care for the environment now and for years to come.”
“Once we show kids how important it is to reduce waste and how easy it is, they realize they can make a difference and begin habits they will carry with them for life,” said Lisa Coppedge, Grades of Green co-founder and director of programs. “And now that the Trash-Free Lunch Challenge is wrapping up its third year, we will have changed the habits of more than 28,000 students just with this program alone.”
Even though this year’s Trash-Free Lunch Challenge is nearly complete, any school may initiate Grades of Green’s Trash-Free Lunch program, as well as more than 40 other environmental activities, at any time. Complete instructions are available at no cost to schools at www.gradesofgreen.org.