StopWaste at School


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"How to" tips

How many of the items on the lists below do you do at your school?  Use the "How to" tips below to get started with waste reduction at your school.  If you have a great idea that's not listed here, register as a user of the site, then log in to post your idea in the comment section.

Create Effective Waste Reduction Posters

EarthDay Poster ContestEarthDay Poster Contest"How do I get my students to move beyond 'coloring with friends' to create recycling posters that really work?" ~ Middle School Teacher

Most school waste reduction campaigns depend on getting the word out to large numbers of students. Schools have developed a wide range ot techniques to help deliver the message, including in-class lessons, assemblies, peer-to-peer outreach, websites, and more, but one of the most effective ways to get the word out is through posters and signs on campus.  Here are some pointers for developing effective signs and posters.

Plan for Sustainability

  • Be mindful of how much paper gets used in a poster campaign.  
  • Design poster projects to use recycled or reused paper.
  • Encourage students to do drafts on the back sides of scratch paper before using higher quality/larger format paper for final products
  • Avoid the use of glues, tapes and paints that might limit the future recyclablity of the posters
  • Consider materials appropriate for ephemeral posters ("Big Event Tuesday!") compared to durable posters (recycling guides on bins, etc)
  • Plan to collect and reuse or recycle posters and signs at the end of your campaign

Students customized posters from the city to reflect actual waste on campusStudents customized posters from the city to reflect actual waste on campusIntegrate the project with coursework

  • Partner with a digital graphics or digital media class to encourage them to develop materials with waste reduction messages
  • Investigate how creating posters can help meet your English/Language Arts, Arts, Science, and/or Foreign Language standards.

Teach students how to make posters

  • Provide students with examples of posters that effectively deliver a message
  • Consider providing students with poster templates that they can customize
  • Teach media literacy skills so that students can identify and use effective advertising techniques
  • Teach basic art and design skills and vocabulary such as: focal point, contrast, symmetry, balance, white space, etc.
  • Develop a rubric that clearly explains expectations for the appearance and content of the poster


  • Poster Project Guide produced by San Leandro Art Specialist Susan Deming.  This 5 page guide includes tools for teachers and students to help create effective posters.
  • Advertising the 4Rs a media literacy guide to understanding and using advertising techniques in your waste reduction project.


Have you created a fantastic poster that helps get the word out about waste reduction?  Email a copy to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Best Practices for Successful Food Scraps Recycling

Best Practices for Successful Food Scraps Recycling

~Compiled From the Green Teams at Glenview Elementary, drugs Bay Farm School, John Muir MS, the Service-Learning Waste Reduction Project, and EarthTeam

"Our school of more than 500 students went from sending 7-8 barrels of trash to the landfill every day at lunch to only one." ~Bay Farm School

School cafeterias are one of the largest point source generators of waste on campus.  Waste audits in the cafeteria usually reveal that more than 80% (by weight) of the waste could be composted or recycled, making it an attractive place to focus campus efforts to improve sustainability.

EarthTeam has compiled a best practices guide from schools that have successfully implemented sustainable food scrap programs.  The guide helps schools:

  • Identify and engage key stakeholders
  • Build a foundation of physical and social infrastructure to support implementation
  • Gather data and make a plan
  • Educate the school
  • Develop a sustainable program

Click here to download a copy of this guide.

Do you have a question or suggestion for implementing food scrap diversion on your campus? Register or login to post it in the comments below.

Conduct a Waste Audit

Waste Audit In ProgressWaste Audit In ProgressIn a Waste Action Project, stomach students investigate the waste stream on campus by auditing a sample of trash cans from the campus, cialis identify a waste challenge (recyclables in the garbage, remedy too much wasted paper, food scraps, etc), organize a waste reduction campaign, then reflect on results.

Schools in the Service-Learning Waste Reduction Project (SLWRP) are eligible to receive facilitated waste audit support.

Linked below are tools to help you conduct your own waste audit and action project at your school. Thanks to teacher Julie Edwards from Emery Secondary for her help in putting together the Waste Audit Data Sheet. These are great tools for leading students through data collection and analysis for the audit. Please share your results in the comment section below or by contacting Nate Ivy: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Green your school

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  • Form a “green team” (Example)
  • Help establish and support environmental clubs for students
  • Organize "green jobs" for students such as participating in the organization, order monitoring, dosage and/or implementation of campus recycling and/or food scrap diversion programs 
  • Help students form partnerships with community groups, non-profit organizations or businesses on waste reduction, recycling and composting projects 
  • Establish  a role for students, staff and/or parent volunteers to oversee waste sorting during lunch and break periods to help ensure that students properly compost and recycle their waste 
  • Adjust garbage and recycling collection service to match the needs of the campus 
  • “Right size" the recycling containers and garbage bins in classrooms to encourage recycling  
  • Establish an “Environmentally Preferable” Purchasing Policy 
  • Establish waste reduction guidelines for community events taking place on school grounds 
  • Teach environmental principles and concepts across the curriculum

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Raise waste reduction awareness at your school and in your community

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  • Back to school staff and student orientation includes information and training about waste reduction, recycling and composting programs on campus. 
  • Organize a campus "garbage pile" to show how much waste is generated in one week.  Publicize school waste reduction efforts on school or community websites 
  • Participate in EarthTeam's free waste audit program to engage a classroom of student in the examination of campus waste. 
  • Support students and families in conducting home waste audits to determine the amount and types of waste they generate. 
  • Students, teachers and/or parents develop and sign a personal waste reduction pledges that includes at least five actions they will take to reduce waste. 
  • Recognize and celebrates classes, clubs, custodians and/or other campus community members that have led waste reduction efforts. 
  • Mentor another school in the district or county to help them improve their waste reduction and recycling programs. 
  • Participate in StopWaste.Org’s free field trip program to your local transfer station
  • Help students calculate their personal or family "carbon footprint" to determine their contributions to greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • Calculate the school’s “carbon footprint” to determine how much greenhouse gas emissions the school generates 
  • Help students maintain a database of waste audit data and/or other waste diversion information such as CRV redemption or e-waste collection. 
  • Students investigate waste reduction practices in other communities 
  • Encourage students to purchase “green” back to school supplies and to reuse old supplies. 
  • Students and staff eliminate unwanted newspaper subscriptions and junk mail. 
  • Students and staff members conduct personal waste audits to learn how much waste they generate in a week or month. 
  • Throughout the year, students and staff encourage and publicize waste reduction, recycling and composting at school and at home through signage, daily announcements, school newsletters and other means. 
  • Students help issue press releases to local media outlets about the schools waste reduction efforts 
  • Established a relationship with a sister school internationally with similar academic/environmental goals so students can be engaged with the global community 
  • Help students develop and implement surveys of parents and community members regarding waste reduction, recycling and composting at school and at home. 
  • Students create pamphlets for parents informing them about the environmental effects of waste reduction, recycling and composting. 
  • Students teach other students activities or lessons relating to waste reduction, recycling and composting 
  • Students perform skits, puppet shows, or other types of educational entertainment related to waste reduction, recycling and composting to other students or community members. 
  • Organize earth day events on campus or in the community 
  • Teachers participate in or provide staff development related to environmental education and waste reduction education (such as: resource conservation, composting in the classroom, etc) 
  • At least twice during the school year, students and staff monitor the school’s garbage, compost, and recycling volumes, then calculate the monthly recycling rate to figure out the volume of garbage generated per student 

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