August 21, 2019

Using Mad Green Skills to Generate Less Cafeteria Trash

Walk into any school cafeteria after lunch and observe the bins and bins of trash the students create with little thought. With a little work and education, your school staff (or parent organization) can tackle this and generate less trash, as well as teach the students a valuable skill. Before making the changes, make sure the district or community has the facilities to support the changes. Bring in the right people from the community to make sure the effort made to collect things for recycling is rewarded with pick up!

1. Educate the students and change language they use. The first week of school, expectations need to be set up, they need to walk through and have changes explained and understand why they are doing it.

2. When they are finished eating, they ask to be excused to recycle. Don’t say throw away your trash, ask if they are ready to recycle.

3. Set up stations. Have the garbage bins set up with labels. They will need a bin to put food scraps in, one for plastics, one for paper, one for milk cartons, one for wtaer bottles. Many plastic bottle recyclers need the bottles with lids off and empty, so you will need a bucket for them to empty remaining water into before the bin for the empty bottles.

4. Have students be involved with the recyling process. Don’t use it as a punishment to help clean the lunchroom- have it be a rotating job classes take turns doing.

5. Try to do a tie in field trip to one of the recycling facilities the school’s waste goes to.

6. Depending how far you want to take the process you can set up a school garden with a compost bin. If you are going to compost the school food leftovers, the students will need to be taught which foods can go in the composting bin and which ones cannot. Raised beds can be built (get parents/community donations and build them on a weekend, or better yet have the kids help build them.  * Tie in with math objectives- tell students what size the raised beds area nd have them figure out how much wood is needed to build them!  Figure out how much soil is needed to put inside them.  The students can approach local gardening companies for donations of things needed- tie it in to literacy and letter writing.  The students can plant and then care for plants or flowers.
(Is anyone starting to see a whole school, cross-curricular unit built around this process!)

7. Capri sun has a great program your school can sign up to be a part of. Go to:
The student’s empty juice pouches are collected and sent in. Each pouch is worth .02 cents and they make things out of them. Your school needs to sign up for the program. You will need a separate bin for the juice pouches. It could be carried further and families could save them at home and send it to add to the lunch collection. (Our house has saved 150 pouches in 2 months-some I have grabbed after baseball games!)

The students will learn that recycling is not hard and benefits the earth. If tie ins can be made (through either a trip to the recycling plant or having the recyclers come do a school talk) and having your students involved in all steps will open their eyes. Most of them just throw their trash away and don’t give it another thought. Making them aware will help us all!

Photo Credit: Chriss BB

Fundraising without Cookie Dough: Simple Tips for Parents

Okay, how many of us have bought an extra magazine subscription we don’t need, cookie dough for the freezer, cheese cakes, gift wrap that gets tucked away and forgotten . . . oh,  the list goes on!

Here are some fundraising ideas that come from things you already are buying for your home.  The school needs to set up accounts and then have collection areas.

Capri sun juice pouches- Capri sun has a great program right now- save the juice pouches and deliver them in packs of 100. Each pouch is worth 2 cents and they reuse them and make backpacks, bags, binders, pencil bags.   Your school will need to set up a collection bin in the lunchroom and have someone that is in charge of counting and packing them.  Also have families save at home and send in.   Any weekend at a local parks field location for soccer or baseball leagues, you can score a huge amount too!

Campbell’s Soup labels.   Each can has a coupon on the label that can be cut out. Have someone hunt at a local Goodwill/Salvation Army for a big tin replica of a Campbell’s soup can and place in foyer or school office for the students to have an easy place to deposit the labels.

Box tops- You may have seen these on different items you already buy. A small pinkish rectangle- they are on cake mixes, your sanitary supplies, Progresso soup packs at Costco, juice bottles, the list goes on (see website for list of brands).  Clip the boxtops, and they are worth 10 cents each!

A fun activity with box tops- each classroom can have a collection box and have a contest to see which class collects the most.  They could have an extra pe session or class movie or popcorn party as a reward.

Grocery store’s club memberships- many of them let you link your club saver account to the local school and they donate money.  In Oregon the stores our school has links to are: Safeway, Albertsons, Target.

A fun fundraiser is a school ‘run’.  This encourages exercise and if planned, the students can ‘practice’ at recess for a few weeks leading up to it.  The students get pledges per lap, or a flat donation and then on one day each class has a schedule and does laps for 20 minutes around the track or inside a gym depending on facilities.  I have seen this done at a couple of schools.  One does it in the spring and one in the fall.  I prefer the one in the fall- the school does it around the first week of October and then has their budget for the school year.  It seems to work better then waiting until to close to Christmas/Holiday season or in the spring when we get ‘fundraisered’ out!

If you want to have a fundraiser that has a product -school tshirts/sweatshirts are a nice one.  There isn’t as big of a profit per piece, but shop around and find a local shirt printer that will give you a good deal.  Put the school logo on front or back. A fun option is the beginning letter of the school made of everyones names.  The kids like finding their names on their shirt.

Wish lists are a nice way to receive things from your school community.  Have teachers compile a list of things needed (this will be huge this year with budget cuts) and send list home or post at school.    It is amazing what will be donated through the wide variety of parent’s work fields. One school I know has a parent that had excess pens and sticky note pads from their work and they donated a box that quickly disappeared into appreciating classrooms.  Many parents are busy and can not come in and donate time, so feel good to be able to donate materials needed.

Photo Credit: Scuba Dive 67