Two Culver City schools—Echo Horizon School and Linwood E. Howe Elementary—will participate in the third annual Trash-Free Lunch Challenge, an L.A. County contest that rewards schools for reducing lunchtime trash. Created by environmental education non-profit Grades of Green and sponsored by the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, as well as Santa Monica-based LAcarGUY, the program has doubled in scope since its inception two years ago.
The Trash-Free Lunch Challenge has diverted as many as 40,000 bags of trash from area landfills and saved schools thousands of dollars over two years. “With 24 schools in this year’s program, we expect to see nearly 30,000 more bags of trash diverted from the new schools alone,” said Lisa Coppedge, Grades of Green’s Director of Programs. “But what’s more important is that an additional 17,500 students will learn how to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost–new habits that will protect the environment in the years to come.”
“We are proud of the remarkable effectiveness of the Trash-Free Lunch Challenge and its continued growth,” said Grace Robinson Chan, Sanitation Districts Chief Engineer and General Manager. This year’s Challenge will bring the number of students who’ve been educated on waste reduction to more than 30,000.”
“LAcarGUY is thrilled to sponsor Grades of Green and the Trash-Free Lunch Challenge. There is no better way to teach new eco-friendly habits to the next generation,” said Mike Sullivan, founder and President of LAcarGUY.
Participating schools will ask students to eliminate trash by using reusable lunch containers, reusable water bottles and cloth napkins. All students, including those who buy lunch, will be taught how to sort waste for recycling and composting.
The 24 schools participating in this year’s Trash-Free Lunch Challenge are located in 14 Los Angeles area cities and include:
• Culver City—Echo Horizon School and Linwood E. Howe Elementary
• Burbank—David Starr Jordan Middle
• Claremont—Chaparral Elementary, Oakmont Elementary, and Vista del Valle Elementary
• Glendale—Verdugo Woodlands Elementary
• La Mirada—Foster Road Elementary
• Lawndale—Jane Addams Middle, and Leuzinger High
• Long Beach—Franklin Classical Middle, Jefferson Leadership Academies, and Lowell Elementary
• Palos Verdes—St. John Fisher School
• Pasadena—Aveson Charter
• Pomona—Diamond Ranch High
• Redondo Beach—John Adams Middle and Parras Middle
• Rosemead—Eldridge Rice Elementary
• Santa Monica—Franklin Elementary, Grant Elementary, and McKinley Elementary
• Torrance—Arlington Elementary and Magruder Middle
The competition gets underway October 2, when representatives from each school will attend a training session and tour of the Sanitation Districts’ Puente Hills Landfill and Materials Recovery Facility.
Once the competing schools implement their Trash-Free Lunch programs, Grades of Green selects three finalists through an application process. A panel of environmental experts and other judges will evaluate the implementation and success of the three finalists’ programs. The winning school will receive a Grand Prize of a $1,000 education grant. The second- and third-place schools will receive $750 and $500, respectively.
Last year’s Grand Prize was awarded to Lunada Bay Elementary School in Palos Verdes Estates, which succeeded in reducing its lunchtime trash by 87.5%.
Though the deadline has passed to compete in this year’s Trash-Free Lunch Challenge, any school may still initiate a Trash-Free Lunch program. Complete instructions are available at no cost to schools at www.gradesofgreen.org/initiatives/trash-redux/trash-free-tuesdays.
Additional sponsors of the Trash-Free Lunch Challenge include the City of Santa Monica, Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, Don Knabe of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors-Fourth District, LAcarGUY, Warner Bros., and Wean Green. Chevron provides the education grants.
Grades of Green is an international environmental education nonprofit dedicated to providing parents, students and educators with free tools to educate, inspire and empower pre-K–12 students to take steps to care for the environment. Anyone who wants to implement sustainability programs can register their school online—at no cost—to get tips and measure their success on reducing trash, emissions, harmful classroom chemicals, plus dozens of other ways to help the environment. Grades of Green has been honored with many awards, including the U.S. EPA’s prestigious Environmental Award.
The nonprofit is growing rapidly, with nearly 136,000 students enrolled across 30 states and five countries, including many low-income schools. Grades of Green’s goal is simple–to enroll thousands of schools with millions of kids, all caring for the environment and collectively making a difference. For more information on Grades of Green visit www.gradesofgreen.org or contact Kim Martin at 310-291-4476.