StopWaste at School


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Mission San Jose

Mission San Jose High School in Fremont is one of the top academic schools in the state and teachers recognize the need to prepare students as the leaders of the future. Beyond a rich academic experience, the school is working to provide students with opportunities to apply academic knowledge to identifying and solving problems, The school hopes to build on its existing recycling and e-waste programs to develop green programming on campus that will help students become environmental leaders in their homes and communities.

Green Service Week at MSJHS

Green Service Week Trashy Fashion ShowGreen Service Week Trashy Fashion ShowStudents and teachers at Mission San Jose High School launched the school's first ever "Green Service Week" March 26-30, 2012.

Guest speaker Anthony Chavez, Cesar Chavez's grandson, kicked off the week by discussing Chavez's environmental legacy, including his efforts to limit the use and impact of pesticides on farmworkers and the food we eat.

Green Service Week organizers encouraged all students to focus on food choices- including packaging- and students worked to pack healthy, zero-waste lunches.

On Tuesday, students organized a screening of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" to highlight the challenges of climate change and to emphasize how small actions and choices by billions of individuals add up to large impacts- and that it is up to us to decide if those choices will be positive or negative.

Throughout the week, student artists created works from re-used materials to highlight environmental themes. Entries were judged on Friday with recognition going to works in both 2D and 3D categories (Judging criteria and contest rules here.)

Students used a range of materials including discarded plastic bottles, e-waste, scrap paper and cloth to create a wide range of entries.

Green Service Week culminated with a Trashy Fashion Show. Student clubs created clothing from trash materials and competed for a trophy and $50.00 donation to the club. The winning entry featured a had and bag woven from "plarn" strands of "plastic yarn" made from strips of disposable plastic bags.

Other creative entries included a dress made from pres-ironed plastic bags, and a newspaper suit made by members of the school newspaper who used the event to tout the recycled content paper and soy based inks used by the school newspaper.

Jeff Evans -EarthTeam Teacher of the Month

Republished from EarthTeam

Teacher of the Month- Jeff EvansTeacher of the Month- Jeff Evans

In Jeff Evans' first year as the site coordinator for the Service-Learning Waste reduction Project at Mission San Jose High School, he has laid down the foundation for environmental awareness through multipleprojects. Last month, with the help of the Health teacher, Mr. Evans' led a waste audit with over 200 freshmen health students.

These students then presented their findings to the rest of the freshmen class in preparation for a Waste-Free Lunch Week. The waste-free week, in which students were encouraged to bring reusable packaging for lunches, was part of a larger inaugural "Green-Service Week" put on by the school's SLWRP team of teachers and students.

Congratulations, Mr. Evans on being selected as EarthTeam's Teacher of the Month for April 2012, and thank you for partnering with EarthTeam on our Waste Action Project!

EarthTeam empowers teens to become lifelong environmental stewards through experiential education, skills development, and the building of community connections.

SLWRP comes to MSJ

(This article was originally Published on Feb. 3, 2012 in Vol. XLVII, No. 5 of the Smoke Signal of Mission San Jose High School ~by Alekya Rajanala, A&E Editor)

The Service Learning Waste Reduction Project (SLWRP), a "go-green" initiative in schools across Alameda County, is taking root at MSJ through the combined efforts of several teachers and administrators. According to History Teacher Jeff Evans, a leader of the SLWRP at MSJ, the goal of the project is to raise high school students' awareness of the service learning aspect of environmental protection.

History Teacher Jeff EvansHistory Teacher Jeff EvansThe current team, which hopes to recruit student leaders soon, consists of Social Studies Teachers Jeff Evans, Cate Ruebling, Roxanne Ponsi, Nancy Benton, and Assistant Principal Diana Brumbaugh. One of this year's main objectives is to host an interactive Service Learning Green Week with the support of MSJ student organizations such as Leadership 2 and Interact. One activity planned for the week-long event is a "Trashy Fashion" show, in which students dress up and flaunt homemade clothing created from salvaged trash articles or other unwanted material. Evans said, "We set the date of the Green Week for the last week of March because it appropriately coincides with Caesar Chavez Day, a day that serves as a tribute to Chavez's commitment to community service."

Through MSJ's involvement in the SLWRP, the school is provided access to some companies that support waste reduction efforts. On Oct. 26, 2011, one such resource, a company called Earth Team, worked with Ruebling's freshman Health class in performing a waste audit. The team and the students scavenged through the school's garbage cans after lunch to sort the trash into different categories and record their findings. Results from the activity, which can be found at, showed that only 18 percent of the waste found in the garbage cans was meant to be sent to a landfill, while the remaining 82 percent was classified as food scraps, untouched food, plastics, paper or metal, and should have been recycled or composted. It is this kind of environmental ignorance that Evans hopes the Service Learning Green Week will curtail.

Other FUSD high schools like Irvington, Kennedy, and American already have well-established waste reduction programs in place, and MSJ's SLWRP teachers hope that MSJ will soon reach the ranks of such schools in terms of environmental awareness. Evans said, "Our school does have a few programs that encourage recycling and reusing, and hopefully this project will make them more known to students and faculty. For instance, we have a clothing drop-off bin set up in the teacher parking lot, and for every pound of clothing contributed, MSJ's Special Education Department receives a small donation."

The SLWRP team has high expectations for the future of the project at MSJ, with ambitious goals like planting a victory garden and establishing a Green Commissioner position in ASB already being discussed. Evans said, "Right now there is so much waste at this school, but I am sure that with the right amount of effort at spreading 'green' awareness, MSJ can succeed in reducing the amount of waste sent to the landfill each year."

(The original article appears on page 3 of the online publication of the school newspaper:

Mission San Jose Waste Audit

"Now that we've looked through our school's trash, we'll think twice before we throw it away." ~ 9th grade student, Mission San Jose High

Waste Audit DataWaste Audit DataOn Wednesday, October 26, 2011, students in Cate Ruebling's 9th Grade Health class at Mission San Jose High School worked with EarthTeam to conduct an audit of the school's lunchtime waste.  Students donned aprons, gloves, and safety goggles to sort through over a dozen bags of trash from the cafeteria and courtyard where students eat.  The activity was part of Mission's larger goal to increase recycling and divert waste from the landfill.

With support from Jose Luis Martinez and Jamilah Bradshaw from EarthTeam, students quickly sorted the bags of trash into different categories in order to better understand the consumption and disposal habits of Mission's students.  The class found large amounts of fast food packaging and "one-use" disposable items.  The largest category by weight was food scraps and food soiled paper, but the students also found plenty of recyclable bottles and cans in the trash as well.  "We eat like pigs," noted one student.

Many students were disappointed to find uneaten, unopened food in the trash.  "This stuff is perfectly good- I don't know why people are throwing it out- They should only take what they need instead of throwing it away."

The trash held many surprises- some were interesting, some were disgusting.  One student discovered a miniature container for McDonald's French fries- unanimously described as "Cute!"  Another group of students found a bag of trash growing a large colony of maggots on a donut box.  Not missing a chance to teach a bit of biology, Ruebling pointed out that maggots take a few days to hatch, so this bag of trash must have been sitting out in the courtyard for some time.  Further sleuthing by the students confirmed that the bag had not been cleared from the prior week's Spirit Week activities.

After all the waste was sorted, Martinez and Bradshaw facilitated a conversation back in the classroom to discuss what students had found and what they might do to make a difference in the future.  Students were alarmed by how much of the garbage was "designed for the dump" and reflected on planned and perceived obsolescence for many of the disposable one-use items in the trash.

Students were most concerned by how much food waste was in the trash and offered the following suggestions to minimize food waste in the future:

  1. Eat your food!
  2. Save it for later.
  3. Bring less food
  4. Compost it in your yard
  5. Share your food with others
  6. Bring stuff you'll actually eat

Teachers and students at Mission plan to use the data from the waste audit to design systems and activities to reduce waste throughout the year.

"Now that we've looked through our school's trash, we'll think twice before we throw it away."