StopWaste at School


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Student Leadership - SWAP MEET

SWAP Meet | May 14 - 15SWAP Meet | May 14 - 15


Join the StopWaste Ambassador Program (SWAP) for a weekend of environmental leadership training May 14th and 15th at Camp Arroyo in Livermore. Organized by StopWaste and the Alameda County Office of Education, tadalafil the SWAP Meet is open to middle and high school students from participating schools in Alameda County.

What: The SWAP MEET: is a weekend of environmental leadership training featuring presentations from environmental experts, drugs student-led workshops, hands-on environmental projects, camp activities and more.

Where: Camp Arroyo in Livermore

When: Saturday, May 14th 9:30 AM - Sunday, May 15th 2:30 PM

Who: The SWAP MEET is open to middle and high school students from Alameda County SWAP schools. Each school is invited to bring a team of 6 students and an adult chaperone. (More spaces may be available for larger groups. Contact Nate Ivy with inquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

How: Organize a team to represent your school, complete our on-line registration form, and submit a $20 deposit to your lead teacher. Deposits are refunded when you arrive at Camp Arroyo, the event is free to participants. After your initial registration is completed we will send a parent permission form, packing list materials and other information about the weekend.


Register now! |


Program updates: 

  • Keynote speaker Jordan Figueiredo from Castro Valley will share his efforts to reduce pre-consumer food waste. Much of the food that is grown is discarded before it is distributed to stores, and much of the food that is distributed to stores is discarded before it is sold to consumers.  The #uglyfruitandveg campaign calls attention to the perfectly edible and slightly unusual looking produce that often gets discarded because it fails to meet appearance standards. Learn more here.

Additional information:

Liability Release Forms must be completed for every student. Completed forms should be submitted by Friday, April 29 via mail or email to Corie Hlavaty | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | StopWaste |1537 Webster St. | Oakland, CA 94612

SWAP MEET Information Packet including driving directions, packing lists, emergency contact information and more. Each school is asked to prepare and share a 10 minute presentation about their efforts to reduce waste this year.

Please fill out this form describing your presentation to be included in the conference program:

Each school is welcome to prepare a longer 45-60 minute hands-on workshop to teach a skill or activity that helps reduce waste. Please fill out this form describing your workshop to be included in the conference program: 

View the embedded image gallery online at:



LEAF 2015

Alameda County’s 2015 Leadership and Environmental Action Forum (LEAF) took place May 30-31 at Camp Arroyo in Livermore. Nearly 100 students from 15 middle and high schools participated in a weekend of environmental leadership training organized by StopWaste, the Alameda County Office of Education and EarthTeam.

The primary goal of LEAF 2015 was to increase students’ capacity to be environmental leaders on campus, at home, and in the community.

The weekend focused on the challenge of keeping food scraps out of the landfill and encouraging residents and businesses in Alameda County to use the green bin for compostable materials.

All LEAF participants can join the effort by completing the following actions:

American High School's Kathryn Tarver Collects a Food Scrap Pledge from her neighborAmerican High School's Kathryn Tarver Collects a Food Scrap Pledge from her neighborTalk to your family about reducing food waste and keeping food scraps out of the garbage. In Alameda County, food scraps and food soiled paper can be placed in the green bin.  Have your family take the Food Scrap Pledge and post a picture of your efforts to social media with the tags @StopWaste and #LEAF2015 or email the photo to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Talk to a friend or neighbor to encourage them to participate in the effort to divert food scraps from the landfill. Find out what they care about and what concerns they have about participation and help them overcome any barriers they face. Then secure their commitment by having them take the Food Scrap Pledge. Post a photo of your efforts to social media with the tags @StopWaste and #LEAF2015 or email the photo to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Visit your favorite restaurant in Alameda County. Ask how they are participating in or preparing for the effort to divert food scraps away from the landfill. If they are unaware of this initiative, let them know about Alameda County’s Mandatory Commercial recycling requirements and who they can contact for help (listed here for each city.) Write a blog post about your dining experience and the restaurant’s efforts to reduce waste. Send the post to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be posted on the Miss Alameda Says Compost blog.

LEAF Recap

Day 1 featured an interactive keynote presentation and four workshops focused on the theme “All In” – highlighting Alameda County’s efforts to get all food scraps and food soiled paper into the green bin for composting.

Materials from the workshops are linked below.

Day 2 featured student led workshops from American High, Nea Community Learning Center, Oakland High, San Lorenzo High, Skyline High and Walters Jr. High School. Each school shared promising environmental practices and tools to inspire others to take action.

Student Presentation ScheduleStudent Presentation Schedule

Photo Gallery

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Environmentally Friendly Car Wash Fundraisers

Car washes are popular fundraisers for many school groups, pilule however, these events can come with an environemntal cost. Solvents, road pollution, brake materials and other contaminants can was into gutters and storm drains polluting our water ways.

New guidance from Alameda County Clean Water Program can help schools organize environmentally friendly car washes.

pdfInformational Flyer1.36 MB

More from the Clean Water Program


Litterati Scavenger Hunt

EarthTeam and the Service-Learning Waste Reduction Project have teamed up with Litterati to organize the Litterati Scavenger Hunt for participants of #LEAF2014. Participation is easy and you can win fantastic prizes for doing your part to help save the planet by finding at least one item in each of the categories listed below:



Between Wednesday, May 21- Friday, June 6, find, photograph, and clean-up as many items as you can using Litterati.

  1. Find a piece of litter
  2. Photograph it with Instagram
  3. Hashtag your photograph with #litterati, #LEAF2014 and the category (e.g.: #shattered). Feel free to add any other interesting/relevant tags such as material type, company name, etc.
  4. Properly dispose of the litter
  5. Read this important note about safety*
  6. Participants in Service-Learning Waste Reduction Project and EarthTeam programs are eligible to win prizes.

Win fabulous prizes!

Every participant from #LEAF2014 who successfully completes the scavenger hunt will win an autographed CD from Buckeye Knoll (Doug Streblow’s band), and a poster of the Resilience characters from Miss Alameda.

Grand Prize: an autographed print of the “Butt Crack” photo by Litterati founder Jeff Kirschner will go to the contestant with the best overall collection of photos in all seven categories as judged by a panel of environmental leaders.

Runner up: an autographed copy of “My Plastic Free Life” from 2013 LEAF Keynote presenter Beth Terry.

Category Prizes:

The Grand Prize winner will receive a signed print of Jeff Kirschner's Butt Crack photo.The Grand Prize winner will receive a signed print of Jeff Kirschner's Butt Crack photo.

Category descriptions


Find a littered item from a company that you like, but you wish did a better job reducing litter. The brand name should be featured prominently in your photo.


Find a littered item that should never have been thrown away. This might include lost items like keys or photographs; personal items like notes or letters; or simply items that you think do not belong in the trash, recycling, or compost. See if you can find something that you want to keep.


Find a littered item and/or take a litter photo that best captures the idea of “#decay.” Decay might be suggested by the item itself, the setting of the photo, or some other visual cue.


Find a littered item that captures the spirit of being “#shattered.” You might find something broken into small pieces or something that represents broken hopes.


Take a beautiful photo of litter that you find in a “#scenic” location.


Find a piece of litter that captures one definition of #vice as, “a bad habit.” Vice litter is not only bad for the planet, but it often also reflect harm humans do to themselves. Vice litter might include tobacco product waste, alcohol related items, junk food wrappers, soda bottles, etc.


Many littered plastic items find their way into streams that drain to the ocean. At sea, many animals mistake the plastic for food resulting in death. Using the photograph of a dead albatross, find an item that the bird mistook for food. Note, the image is disturbing and you should click through with caution, or do the alternate assignment below.


In literature an albatross represents a curse of guilt felt by a character- perhaps most famously in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” where, “Instead of the cross, the Albatross | About my neck was hung.”  Find an item that represents a curse of guilt, perhaps some item that you yourself use, but you wish you didn’t because of its environmental impacts.

The fine print:

  • This scavenger hunt is open to participants of #LEAF2014.
  • All photos must be uploaded to Instagram before 11:59 PM, Wednesday, May 28
  • Each photo must be tagged #litterati #LEAF2014 and include the category tag too
  • A panel of judges from EarthTeam and ACOE will determine winners
  • Use common sense safety:
    • BE AWARE of your surroundings (don’t get trampled on the sidewalk just to get the perfect picture, stay out of traffic, etc)
    • DON’T touch dangerous or nasty stuff (needles, personal hygiene items, toxic waste, etc) DO notify authorities (custodians, administrators, fire fighters, etc) who can properly and safely dispose of dangerous/nasty stuff.
    • STAY CLEAN. Consider using gloves or tools to pick stuff up. Wash your hands with soap and water after disposing of litter.

 Most Recent Entries

Search #litterati #LEAF2014 on Instagram to see entries from this scavenger hunt.

2014 Zero Waste Youth Convergence

2014 Zero Waste Youth Convergence2014 Zero Waste Youth ConvergenceOn March 16, the 2nd annual Zero Waste Youth Convergence met at the City College of San Francisco’s Mission Campus. The event brought together Zero Waste practitioners to share best practices and emerging technologies and trends in eliminating waste before it starts.

Organized by young people, for young people, this year’s convergence had an added emphasis on career awareness and young entrepreneurs who have started their own Zero Waste businesses.

Reinforcing the Zero Waste theme, organizers provided washable plates, cups, and utensils at lunch, utensil-free “finger-foods” for snacks, and double-sided, dual-purpose name tag/conference programs.

Keynote Presenter Dustin Fedako: Let's talk about CompostKeynote Presenter Dustin Fedako: Let's talk about CompostThe event was keynoted by Dustin Fedako, the founder and CEO of Austin, TX based Compost Pedallers. Dustin’s company provides green-waste hauling service (via bicycle) to households and businesses interested in keeping food scraps out of the trash. Food scraps are delivered to community gardens and other local composters to be turned into rich productive soil.

Workshop sessions included the following topics:

  •         Green Careers
  •         Compost and Food Waste Reduction
  •         Product Design and Packaging
  •         Waste Reduction through Conscious Consumption
  •         Startups and Innovation
  •         Composting Programs on University Campuses
  •         Public Policy
  •         Social/Community Justice
  •         Creative Reuse
  •         How to get Involved

By design, attendees included middle and high school students, college students and young professionals. In addition to increasing Zero Waste knowledge, organizers hoped to build relationships and networks among Zero Waste youth. Indeed, the hallways were abuzz with college students describing their environmental majors to middle and high school students before pivoting to interview young professionals about their jobs and career paths. 

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Rainbow Warrior Art Exhibit

Quilled Paper SkullsQuilled Paper SkullsOn November 11, 2013, Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior visited San Francisco. As part of the visit, Greenpeace hosted a forum on art and activism which included work from Wood Middle School in Alameda and Walters Junior High in Fremont.

Both schools used a “Dia de los Muertos” theme to explore how materials are used and discarded and how human actions impact the environment.

Walters Junior High created skeletons and sugar skulls using plastic milk jugs and cardboard pizza trays.

Students from Wood investigated marine animals that are harmed by pollution and litter. Using quilled paper, the students created skulls of the animals and wrote letters honoring their lives.

View the embedded image gallery online at:


Earth Day 2013: Climate Change – Ideas and Resources from Cathryn Berger Kaye

Guest post by Cathryn Berger-Kaye, author of The Complete Guide to Service-Learning and Going Blue: A Teen Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands. Berger-Kaye has also produced a range of free action-oriented materials in partnership with EarthEcho

Earth Day 2013 has a compelling theme: Climate Change. What an outstanding opportunity to empower kids and teens to know our every day decisions and actions impact our environment. All these impacts add up to protecting our planet or causing our climate to change more rapidly.

Can even young children understand about climate change? Absolutely! As described in Make a Splash! A Kids Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands, "Some climate change is natural. Earth's climate has cycles and patterns. Temperatures rise and fall. However, most scientists agree that human actions have made these changes bigger and faster. Human actions can also help slow down these changes.

"Greenhouse gases are a big cause of climate change. These are gases that build up in the air and make our planet warmer. Carbon dioxide is a common greenhouse gas. When we burn oil and coal to run cars, factories, electrical plants, and farms, we produce a lot of carbon dioxide. Some of it stays in the air and some of it goes into the water."

We can all do our part to reduce greenhouse gases. This is especially urgent because our oceans absorb up to half of this carbon dioxide that we produce. That's too much for our waters.

Ready for Action

  • Promote walking and biking campaigns---Great for exercise and no carbon dioxide.
  • Turn off and unplug---Yes, turn off lights at school and home. Teach your school community about unplugging electronics when not in use. For an exceptional resource with all you need for school and home energy audits, visit EarthEcho International (see resources below) and click on the Water Planet Challenge Action Guides. Select You Have the Power! for an entire service learning guide to energy reduction.
  • Reduce---When you use less, less has to be produced. Do a classroom inventory of ways less could be used. Or, when something is used and you are done with it, then . . .
  • Reuse---Be clever; look for ways to reuse an item before you throw it away. Want to create a t-shirt with an Earth Day message? Take a used one and turn it inside out. Now you will give a double message!
  • Recycle--Often recycling is misunderstood. Learn about what can be recycled and help others know how to sort their trash. Visit for ways to recycle and upcycle items you would normally throw in landfills.
  • Compost---Reducing critical food waste reduces greenhouse gases in landfills. Start composting in schools and educate the entire community. Download the Rethinking Waste Water Planet Challenge Action Guide (see Resources: Websites).
  • Be Litter Free---Even little litter adds us. Read about the Plant Your Butts and Be Straw Free campaigns in Make a Splash! Remember that litter often ends up in storm drains and gets a free ride into our oceans (oh no!). Have fun teaching others; turn the hilarious book The Wartville Wizard into a play, a great antidote for litter.
  • Talk, Talk Talk---In Make a Splash! and in Going Blue: A Teen Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands read how your words can be shaped as an elevator speech and have a ripple effect. Turn your words into a message, a letter, or make a video.

Earth Day is the perfect time to launch into action. And then remember to turn every day into Earth Day!

Resources: Books

Going BlueGoing Blue

The Carbon Diaries, 2015 by Sachi Lloyd (Holiday House, 2009) In this London-based story, follow a teen as the community goes on a carbon restricted plan in response to a global crises. Young adult fiction

The Curse of Akkad: Climate Upheavals that Rocked Human History by Peter Christie (Annick Press, 2008) An historical overview of human encounters with climate change from earliest recorded history to the present. Riveting!

Going Blue:  A Kids Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands by Cathryn Berger Kaye with Philippe Cousteau and EarthEcho International (Free Spirit Publishing, 2013) What we need to know and plenty of examples of youth taking action to protect our waters and planet.

A Kids' Guide to Climate Change & Global Warming by Cathryn Berger Kaye (Free Spirit Publishing, 2009) A service learning interdisciplinary guide to making a plan and taking action.

Make a Splash! A Kids Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands by Cathryn Berger Kaye with Philippe Cousteau and EarthEcho International (Free Spirit Publishing, 2013) An engaging book to help children understand the role of water on our planet and find a myriad of ways to protect our watery planet. Many example of children taking action.

The Wartville Wizard by Don Madden (Aladdin, 1993) A timeless tale of a wizard sending littered items to stick to the litterer! Hilarious!

Resources: Websites This website from Cathryn Berger Kaye offers resources and a catalogue of books to support service learning. Soon to be updated! EarthEcho International's Water Planet Challenges offers multiple service learning Action Guides authored by Cathryn Berger Kaye all free for downloading. Two have been referenced in this article: You Have the Power! and Rethinking Waste. Stop Waste at School offers outstanding examples and resources from the Oakland, California region with replicable ideas. TerraCycle offers ways for schools to send in hard to recycle items and earn as they go.

Cathryn Berger Kaye, M.A., of CBK Associates and ABCD Books offers exceptional resources and professional development all year long. Contact Cathryn at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit

Zero Waste Youth Convergence

Shannon Davis helps silkscreen the Convergence logo onto repurposed t-shirtsShannon Davis helps silkscreen the Convergence logo onto repurposed t-shirtsJust days before the first ever Bay Area Zero Waste Youth Convergence, a small crisis broke out in an email thread among the event's organizers: should the coffee station at the event use compostable wood/bamboo stirrers or durable/reusable metal spoons? Which one would be the better Zero Waste choice for the event?

For Irvington High School senior and planning committee member, Sophia Chan, the tension over this small decision served to confirm her connection with the group. "I was just like, 'Yes! Finally, people who don't want to use plastic utensils as much as I do! I found my people!'"

In fact, a major goal of the Zero Waste Youth Convergence was to help like-minded youth find each other, develop connections, and participate in Zero Waste leadership workshops. Organized by young people, for young people, the Convergence reached out to high school and college students as well as young professionals in the first years of their careers.

Over 200 people attended the event hosted at San Francisco Community College's Mission Campus on March 17, 2013. The convergence included:

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Sessions featured innovative organizations and companies like Waste to WavesSessions featured innovative organizations and companies like Waste to WavesAccording to Kimberly Lam, a recent graduate of UC Berkeley and one of the main organizers of the event, the Zero Waste Youth Convergence serves a key function in supporting environmental innovation, "The ZWYC was really important because although NCRA [the Northern California Recycling Association] has hosted Recycling Update and other zero waste related events and workshops every year, there haven't been any focused on the new generation just coming into zero waste as high school and college students, and young professionals. This was the US's first Zero Waste Youth Convergence (inspired by similar events in Brazil and other countries) and I hope that this movement continues to grow so that we have many more convergences in the future for the youth!"

Beth Terry's keynote focused on reducing plastic use.Beth Terry's keynote focused on reducing plastic use.For Lam, the event also held personal significance, "It was awesome seeing so many young people interested in zero waste and bringing the message back to their schools and communities. I was shocked that so many of them were already involved in zero waste and sustainability in high school - back when I was in high school, we didn't have any sort of green or sustainability club, and we certainly had never heard of the term "zero waste" - looks like things are changing for the better!"

NCRA board member Jordan Figueiredo hopes to see the Zero Waste Youth Convergence become a regular part of Zero Waste Week activities in the Bay Area. "I hope that we can organize the ZWYC every year on the Sunday before Recycling Update."

Review of "Garbology, Our Dirty Little Love Affair with Trash"

Guest post by Jeannette Frechou, Wood Middle School

Garbology, by Edward HumesGarbology, by Edward Humes

For anyone who wants to change to a more sustainable lifestyle or needs a Primer to teach conservation, "Garbology, Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash" by Edward Humes is a must read!  This Pulitzer prize-winning author weaves a historically compelling narrative of our "out of sight, out of mind" dealings with our trash, from the stories of early immigrants only access to paying jobs, to a modern immigrant's story of becoming a multi-millionaire by selling U.S. trash to China.

Humes keeps the reader actively asking his important questions, "What is the nature of our waste? And "How can we move from waste management to materials management?" With scientific voices and statistics detailing the plight of our oceans, Humes challenges us to face our disposable lifestyles and wasteful ways in this time of economic hardship in the U.S. His rich examples of people turning trash to treasures and rethinking their waste stream gives hope and creative ideas for us all to make a difference in our lives, communities and oceans' health.


Suggested socratic seminar structure:

Having just finished "Garbology, Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash" by Edward Humes, I was inspired by his compelling writing and examples from history to write up this idea for a Socratic Seminar. In the early part of his book, Humes details the early history of garbage in New York in the 1890's. This was the beginning of using 'transportation' as a method to rid an area of its waste.

As detailed on page 45 of his book:

"A growing city found a new use for this waste: Hauled to a massive ash dump on Barren Island in Jamaica Bay, the refuse was then used to fill in New York marshlands that were subsequently covered over to build houses and marinas. Once that effort was complete and no more waste could be squeezed onto Barren Island, a new ash repository opened - The Corona Dump in Queens, where massive amounts of toxin-laden ash and assorted other trash were again used as landfill to reclaim salt marshes for development. When that was done, the black and gray waste accumulated into a smoldering mountain of ash ninety feet high, a fetid, volcanic landscape. The place was depicted by F. Scott Fitzgerald as 'the Valley of Ashes' in The Great Gatsby." (Humes, 2012)

Using the text from The Great Gatsby is a great opportunity to discuss with students their role in the global warming and trashing of our planet's oceans. Here is the text from The Great Gatsby that describes the Corona Dump, a consequence of our American industrialization:

"a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and Hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the form of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and finally with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air."

It was later covered over and a golf course built upon. So contaminated was It, it had to be sprayed daily with disinfectants for protection of the golfers. (Humes, 2012)

Questions for consideration:

  • How have our waste disposal practices changed from the late 1800's until today? 
  • What role does the individual play in their contributions to waste in landfills? 
  • Is it merely following the rules of sorting your three stream recycling program or does each individual need to examine their accumulation of materials in their daily lives? 
  • How does what you consume aid to your health and the health of our oceans?
  • Given what archaeologists have discovered about ancient cultures such as Mayans, Egyptians and Greeks by uncovering their empires, what will our landfills say about us in the United States of America.