Schools slash lunchroom waste

The Carbon Yeti's got some high-fiving to do again.

Schools slash lunchroom waste

Inspired by the City of Bellevue’s annual Green Genius Cafeteria Challenge, students at 21 Bellevue schools cut their lunch waste collectively to just 12 percent of the national average.

For the second year in a row, Puesta del Sol Elementary School took first place among the participating elementary schools, with its students averaging just 2.9 grams of garbage – the weight of a penny – on measurement day (Nov. 16).

“This year was extremely competitive,” said Jennifer Goodhart, conservation and outreach administrator with the city. “School results were impressive, and the real winner in this contest is the environment,” she added, noting that the number of schools participating continues to grow.

Since 2012, Bellevue Utilities and the Bellevue School District have cosponsored the Green Genius Challenge each November for America Recycles Day. The schools that participated this year represented 14,000 students and staff.

Students at the first-place middle school, Tillicum, generated just 14 grams of waste that day – the weight of two quarters. The top high school, Newport, generated 28 grams – the weight of four quarters.

The garbage generated by the students at those schools would average 7.5 pounds for an entire year, compared to the 67 pounds of lunch waste generated annually by the average American student, according to the EPA.

In the weeks leading up to measurement day, staff and students used many strategies to motivate including: student skits, classroom presentations, assemblies, posters, costumes, progress charts and competitions between lunch periods. Students, teachers and even parents coached students on how to sort their stuff into compost, recyclables and trash.

The schools work to continue waste reduction behaviors throughout the year.
Winning schools got recycled, engraved trophies to display. All participating schools received certificates in recycled newspaper frames. Puesta del Sol will get lunch with the Carbon Yeti – the Utilities Department’s conservation-conscious mascot.

The participating elementary schools were: Ardmore, Bennett, Cherry Crest, Clyde Hill, Eastgate, Enatai, Jing Mei, Lake Hills, Medina, Newport Heights, Phantom Lake, Puesta del Sol, Sherwood Forest, Somerset and Spiritridge. The middle schools were Highland, Odle and Tillicum; the high schools were Interlake and Newport. International School has middle and high-school grades.

Jing Mei took second place for elementary schools, with 3.1 grams of waste per student, less than the weight of a nickel. Somerset took third, with 4.5 grams of waste per student.
Published on 12/06/2018
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