StopWaste at School


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Custodians are Key to a Sustainable School Campus

Liz North, <a href=Liz North, malady Horner Jr. High custodian" width="300" height="225" />After only a year at Horner Jr. High in Fremont, shop custodian Liz North has made herself a part of the community by working to keep the school green and doing it with pride.

Liz was originally placed at Kennedy High School, hospital and this is where her sorting education started. She was never a recycler until she learned about the practices happening at the school. From there, the movement pulled her in and she carried it on throughout her time at Kennedy, and now at Horner.

Liz partnered up with Neha Ojeda, a teacher at Horner, to start implementing better sorting practices at school. Horner has a 3 bin system including recycling, compost and landfill during lunch time, and students comply with it very well. Students from the special day class take out the compost while leadership students monitor the bins and take the bags to the recycling dumpster. Through partnerships, students and teachers  can easily get involved, helping to take some of the burden off of the custodial staff.

Sorting was a practice Liz picked up and quickly became passionate about, and she believes in relaying that passion to the students. Her advice to other custodians is to get involved in the school, and get students involved. Emphasizing that it is good for the environment will inspire the kids, and make them feel that what they are doing is necessary to helping the planet. A sustainable campus stems from students and staff working together to accomplish this goal. It’s a chain reaction, Liz believes, and the passion will develop over time.

It takes community involvement and appreciation of each other. Liz has received overwhelming gratitude, with students saying that they like to see Ms. North around their campus cleaning up. When walking around the campus with her, students are always greeting her and chatting, and she has made herself a part of this school’s community in her short time here at Horner. 

Students Celebrate Recycling Success with Pizza Party

Ms. Ruzicka's 5th period class at Horner Junior High won a pizza party to celebrate their excellent work in the school's quarterly recycling competition.

Ms. Ruzicka's classMs. Ruzicka's class

Each week, classrooms deliver recyclables to Neha Ojeda's classroom to be sorted. Ojeda's students collect bottles and cans for cash redemption and place paper in the school's recycling dumpster. Ojeda provides tickets to each classroom that has minimal contamination in their recyclable materials.

Shrawak and Edward at workShrawak and Edward at workRuzicka's class earned tickets each week, and was selected in a random drawing as the 1st quarter winner. The pizza party was provided by the campus Leadership Class to help celebrate and advance waste reduction efforts on campus. Ojeda provided Ruzicka with a gift card paid for from bottle and can recycling to honor her efforts to encourage classroom recycling.

Ruzicka gave a lot of credit for the effort to two particular students, Shrawak and Edward, who make sure the recyclables get delivered on time each week.

"The whole class does a good job with this," noted Ruzicka, "only occasionally do I have to point out that someone mistakenly tossed a bottle in the trash and we almost never see trash in our recycling."

Neha Shah- Earth Team Teacher of the Month

Republished from EarthTeam

Neha Shah is EarthTeam's October teacher of the month. Neha is a special needs teacher at Horner Jr. High School in Fremont, CA who plays a large role in helping students make a positive impact on their campus and community. In addition to her teaching duties, Neha works with students campus wide and helps, "run the recycling, composting, environmentally friendly activities" at her school. She works with the ASB teachers and student "Green Team" leaders to help keep the campus clean and help students educate others on campus.

In October Neha helped coordinate two days of waste audits at with EarthTeam and ASB students at Horner Jr. High School. Students are taking the data they received during this waste audit and turning it into action to educate their campus about how to reduce waste.

We are proud to feature Neha and applaud her work and enthusiasm getting youth excited about keeping the earth clean. Thank you Neha, keep up the great work!

Pop Music Wins Trash Bash Voting at Horner

Samiha explains how to "vote with trash"Samiha explains how to "vote with trash"During the week of April 22, 2013, students at Horner Junior High celebrated a full week of Earth Day activities focused mainly on improving lunch time waste diversion.

One of the most popular activities, organized by two 8th grade students, encouraged students to "vote" for their favorite genre of music by correctly sorting their waste.

Four waste stations corresponded to the genres of Pop, Hip Hop, Indie, and Justin Beiber/One Direction. After eating, students brought their trash, food scraps and recyclables to the waste station aligning with their favorite genre of music with the promise of having the winning genre being played at Friday's lunchtime activities.

"Voting" begins!"Voting" begins!At the end of the day, Pop music had the most "votes," having collected the higest volume of correctly sorted waste.

The event, organized by 8th grade students Allison and Samiha had added benefits as well. According to Samiha, "Usually our lunch area is FULL of litter and today it was super clean. It really made a difference in the amount of trash left behind in the courtyard."

Allison and Samiha were inspired to create the trash voting stations by a presentation given by another school at a leadership conference earlier in the year. "They set up trash cans for voting to address litter," explained Allison. "We were inspired by the idea, but really wanted to improve on it to also encourage people to recycle and sort their food scraps. It was a huge success!"

Earth Day Posters at HornerEarth Day Posters at Horner

8th Graders Organize Lunch Time Waste Reduction

Allison and Samiha organized their school's lunchtime waste reduction effortAllison and Samiha organized their school's lunchtime waste reduction effortAfter a lunch time waste audit showed that over 70% of the items in the trash could be composted, Horner Jr. High's Go Green Commissioners made a plan and took action.

8th graders Allison and Samiha hold the newly created leadership class position dedicated to improving the environmental habits of the campus. "We know we have a big responsibility to set up systems that work. We want to make a difference and we want it to last," explains Allison.

"Our primary goals this year are to reduce lunch-time litter and decrease the amount of trash we throw away," adds Samiha.

Tray stacking cut trash volume by 30%Tray stacking cut trash volume by 30%

During the waste audit, they noticed that the compostable cardboard trays were taking up most of the volume in the trash, so they organized a tray stacking campaign- asking students to dump material from their trays into the trash before stacking the trays for composting.

The effort produced immediate results. Lead custodian Jill Popjoy reports that tray stacking alone resulted in a 30% reduction in trash volume. "We used to fill up 11-12 large bags of trash at every lunch- now we're down to 7-8. The students are doing a great job."

A poster campaign helped get the word outA poster campaign helped get the word out

To help get the word out about the tray stacking campaign, Allison and Samiha created daily bulletin announcements, sent out emails to all students using School Loop, made posters for the courtyard, and hosted a week of monitored tray stacking stations at lunch.

"Students are already catching on to the tray stacking," explains Allison. "It's been easy to teach them to dump their stuff in the trash before stacking the trays. They do a pretty good job stacking trays even when the stations aren't monitored."

Weekly station monitoring keeps the system running cleanWeekly station monitoring keeps the system running clean

"We aren't able to monitor food scraps everyday," they explained, "but once-a-week, one of us walks around with a green bin and asks students to put their food scraps in. The other one of us monitors tray stacking."

The two students are perfectly suited for the job. They cheerfully dig misplaced items out of the trash using picker/grabbers and are not afraid to call-out students who get caught throwing trays in the trash, plastic wrap in the recycling, or food scraps in the garbage.

"HEY! GET BACK HERE!" Allison shouted to a 7th grader on a recent Thursday. She then patiently explained why food scraps go in the compost and reminded him to stack his tray.

Campus supervisor Al Moore has seen improvements in campus cleanlinessCampus supervisor Al Moore has seen improvements in campus cleanliness

They think that there is too much plastic in the cafeteria- this makes monitoring difficult and daily collection of food scraps unfeasible. "We want the district to get rid of the plastic wrapped spork packets- and we've started talking to students at other schools to see if we can make that happen," says Samiha.

Campus supervisor Al Moore has noticed a big improvement in the lunchtime courtyard. "This has been a big help," he says. "These two young ladies are really helping the 7th graders get with the program."

Students deliver stacked trays to composting at the end of lunchStudents deliver stacked trays to composting at the end of lunchAllison and Samiha hope to add a "Food Share" box to the courtyard at lunch. "Almost 20% of our food waste was unopened food. We made bulletin announcements encouraging them to share uneaten food, and some have started doing that, but a food share box will really help," explains Samiha.