Will Rogers Middle School wins 'Trash Free Lunch Challenge' by reducing trash from 28 bags to less than 3

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Will Rogers Middle School in Lawndale beat 23 other schools to win the 'Trash Free Lunch Challenge,' reducing waste from 28 to less than three bags. (KABC)

Will Rogers Middle School in Lawndale beat 23 other schools to win the "Trash Free Lunch Challenge." The students aren't better eaters, but rather, they're champions at waste reduction.

"They have reduced our waste from 28 bags of trash down to three or less," said Allie Bussjaeger, programs and outreach manager of Grades of Green.

Just three bags of trash for nearly 1,000 students is no small feat. It's all a part of something called the "Trash Free Challenge."

The students got their education with the help of Grades of Green, a non-profit international organization that has helped over 200,000 students in 39 states and six countries.

"Through our Grades of Green 'Trash Free Lunch Challenge,' we were able to educate 11,000 students in the greater Los Angeles area. They're diverting over 320 tons of waste collectively from landfills in just one school year," said Bussjaeger.

Remarkable considering most don't bring a bagged lunch.

"Over 90 percent of our students buy hot lunch and so what's changed is now they're very conscientious about how they recycle from the tray to the plastic to the drink to the fruit," said principal Maurita De La Torres.

"I didn't know that there could be so many ways to recycle something. Cardboard to plastic to compost, I didn't know we could all that with it," said 6th grader Ariel Garcilazo.

They learned to set up sorting stations, how to stack trays efficiently, compost fruit and veggie scraps...

"And even separate out their liquid waste to be disposed of properly," said Bussjaeger.

And uneaten produce goes to local convalescent homes.

Their snack bar sells re-useable water bottles and bags, while the compost goes to LA Sanitation's compost system, although they plan to use it in their garden this year.

Will Rogers Middle School won first prize out of 23 schools countywide with their efforts. The prize is $1,000, a DJ party, and a competition for a trash fashion show.
Related Topics:
foodfood coachenvironmenteducationrecyclingschoolstudentsLawndale
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