Eco-School Cuts Trash By 46 Percent with Waste-Free Lunch Challenge

November 15, 2011

Anne Hathaway Public School green students recently participated in the Waste-Free Lunch Challenge and the results were impressive. Anne Hathaway Public School is located in Stratford, Ontario (that’s right, Justin Bieber’s hometown), with students from kindergarten to grade 6.  “The Waste-Free Lunch Challenge is an elementary school program developed by the Recycling Council of Ontario in partnership with Metro Ontario Inc. and Tetra Pak Canada. The goal of the program is to help schools decrease the amount of garbage they produce and to educate students, staff and parents about waste reduction.” Twenty participating schools will win $1,000 and Anne Hathaway is in contention (good luck!).

According to the Recycling Council of Ontario, “School lunches are a major source of waste in Ontario with the average student’s lunch generating a total of 30 kilograms of waste per school year, or an average of 8500 kilograms (18,700 lbs) of waste per school per year.”

During the week prior to the challenge, Anne Hathaway Public School conducted a pre-audit of their waste which equated to 15.42 kilograms of garbage.  Then during Waste Reduction Week from October 17 to October 22, 2011, Anne Hathaway’s green students brought waste-free lunches to school which resulted in a waste reduction to 8.27 kilograms.  That’s a 46 percent decrease in waste and 7.15 kilograms of garbage that didn’t end up in a landfill. 

The Stratford Gazette spoke to Tarra Green, the teacher that spearheaded and organized this green initiative at the school who said:  “It’s important for the kids to take care of the Earth; they are in charge of their future.”  It’s commendable that teachers like Tarra Green are inspiring and encouraging students to make greener choices for a sustainable future.

Packing a waste-free lunch is simple and can be accomplished through these 5 easy steps:

 1. Pack food in reusable lunch containers
 2. Wash and reuse real silverware and cloth napkins.  Say no to plastic cutlery and disposable napkins!

 3. Store juice, milk, water or other beverages in a reusable and sustainable BPA-free bottle

 4. Control food portions to ensure that there are no ‘leftovers’ to dispose of; compost any scraps

 5. Pack it all in a reusable lunch bag or tote

Waste Reduction Week is already set for next year – October 15 to 21, 2012.  Let’s hope all elementary schools follow the lead of Anne Hathaway Public School and participate in the Waste-Free Lunch Challenge in 2012.  If one school in one week can almost cut their waste in half, imagine what communities of schools across Ontario can accomplish.

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