In honor of Earth Day, all ten of Culver City Unified School District’s school sites participated in the first annual District-wide recycling competition during the week of April 18-22. The goal was to be the school that reduced the most landfill waste, and produced the cleanest recycling and compost streams. At the majority of the schools, student leaders, key staff and parent volunteers came out in force to help students recycle and compost carefully, and reduce landfill.
Hearty congratulations goes to La Ballona Elementary for standing out as the elementary school site that reduced the most landfill waste during the week-long event and produced the cleanest waste streams both pre and post competition. Farragut Elementary was recognized for being the “most improved” over the course of the competition, thanks in great part to student leaders from Karen Lanier’s Global Sustainability course. Special recognition also goes to El Marino and El Rincon for their remarkable student, staff and volunteer leadership, while Linwood Howe is being honored for it’s school-wide student leadership program. The Office of Child Development won their friendly competition against the Adult School and Culver Park, while Culver City Middle School (CCMS) and Culver City High School (CCHS) tied and are being recognized for their remarkable student and staff leadership that is building awareness about the importance of reducing our collective carbon footprint.
During the course of Earth Week, CCHS hosted two special lunchtime events: a Ballona Creek Renaissance (BCR) Club-sponsored Recycled Art activity and an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-sponsored Food Waste Audit. The creative recycled art event (held on Monday and Friday) featured colorfully painted plastic water bottle flowers, which attracted ample participation from both girls and boys. Much appreciation to the BCR Club for their leadership on this fun earth-friendly project!
The USDA estimates that 31% of the overall food supply in the United States goes uneaten. This is a grave misallocation of resources with significant economic and environmental impacts. The EPA is now reaching out to schools to help raise awareness of this problem and to help create solutions. The Earth Day EPA Food Waste Audit at CCHS was supported by 12 student volunteers and included participation from another 48 students. Out of the 48 meals assessed, a total of about 9.5 pounds of leftover food and 35 unopened food items were weighed and counted.
Just from this small sample at CCHS, over the academic year (180 days) an estimated 1,676 pounds of potentially compostable leftover food is not eaten, while 6,300 potentially donatable unopened items are thrown away.
Key recommendations from the EPA and CCHS students to reduce food waste at CCUSD includes: (1) Educate students, faculty and operations on food resources and the importance of food resource conservation; (2) Adjust recipes of the top three leftover/unopened food/beverage items; (3) Establish share tables for whole fruits, beverages and unopened items, and donate leftovers; (4) Before debuting a new menu item, conduct a taste test on a group of students; (5) Give each menu item a clever-sounding name, in Spanish and English, such as: X-Ray Vision Carrots/Zanahorias de Rayos X.
On April 18 this year, another EPA food waste audit will be conducted at Culver City Middle School. Results of both audits will be made available at: CCUSD.org/Sustainability.
– Shea Cunningham