Over the past month or two Roll-Off Dumpster Direct has been heading “back to school” to help with end-of-year clean-up and cleanouts. In fact, we have ended up at a pretty big list of schools, including:

  • Jt Reddick Elementary (Tifton, GA)
  • Omega Elementary (Omega, GA)
  • High Bridge Elementary School (High Bridge, NJ)
  • Wakulla River Springs Middle School (Crawfordville, FL)
  • Sligo Middle School (Silver Spring, MD)
  • Summit Hall Elementary School (Gaithersburg, MD)
  • Eastern Middle School (Silver Spring, MD)
  • Lake Seneca Elementary School (Germantown, MD)
  • Flower Hill Elementary School (Gaithersburg, MD)
  • Whetstone Elementary School (Montgomery Village, MD)
  • Eastern Middle School (Silver Spring, MD)
  • Gilcrest Elementary School (Tallahassee, FL)
  • High Road School Of Providence (Providence, RI)
  • Beaverdam Elementary School (Elberton, GA)
  • Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL)
  • Fayetteville State University (Fayetteville, NC)
  • Harmony Elementary School (Buford, GA)
  • University Of Delaware (Newark, DE)
  • Hening Elementary School (Richmond, VA)
  • Chalkley Elementary (Chesterfield, VA)
  • Pleasant Grove Elementary (Burlington, NC)
  • Cannon School Of Concord (Concord, NC)
  • The University Of South Carolina Aiken (Aiken, SC)
  • Surf City Middle School (Hampstead, NC)
  • Killearn Lakes Elementary School (Tallahassee, FL)
  • Varina Elementary School (Richmond, VA)

According to a 2019 report by the World Wildlife Fund, schools in the U.S. waste 530,000 tons of food per year. This breaks down to about 39.2 pounds of food waste and 19.4 gallons of milk thrown out per school per year, based on the results from the 46-school sample across nine cities.

Last year we shared that summer is the time for school cleanouts, but now we want to address some common questions about waste management in schools and how schools can help reduce waste.

Questions About Trash and Recycling in Schools

kid recycling water bottle at school

Why is proper waste management important in schools?

It’s important for schools to have a clean and healthy environment. When schools have a good plan for disposing of trash, it can help reduce the risk of disease, prevent pollution, and teach students the importance of responsible waste disposal.

What are some effective ways to reduce trash generation in schools?

Implementing recycling programs, encouraging the use of reusable materials (like water bottles and lunch containers), and promoting paperless initiatives are all effective ways to reduce trash generation in schools. Back in 2019 some students and teachers in Maine and Virginia put together a program that helped reduce school lunch waste by 93%. Learn more.

How can schools educate students about the importance of recycling?

Schools can organize recycling awareness campaigns, provide educational materials and workshops on recycling, involve students in sorting and recycling activities, and create recycling clubs or committees to actively engage students.

How can schools encourage students to participate in waste reduction initiatives?

kids recycling outsideSchools can organize competitions, rewards, or incentives for students who actively participate in waste reduction initiatives. They can also involve students in decision-making processes, allowing them to contribute ideas and take ownership of the initiatives. For example, the USDA recommends holding a taste-testing event to gather feedback on lunch options. Then students feel involved and schools can ensure they are serving meals that are well-liked.

How can schools effectively separate recyclable and non-recyclable waste?

Schools can provide clearly labeled recycling bins and color-coded signage to help students and staff easily identify and separate recyclable materials from non-recyclable waste. At the beginning of each school year, it can help to educate students on recycling best practices.

What are some creative ways to upcycle or repurpose trash in school projects?

Schools can encourage students to use old materials for DIY art projects. Sometimes old textbooks can be used for notebooks or decorations. Teachers can hold science fairs or craft competitions for students to use recycled items creatively.

What are some helpful resources related to waste management in schools?

The USDA has some great strategies for reducing food waste in schools, like an offer-versus-serve program. The EPA also has a number of resources, including the guide, “Tools to Reduce Waste in Schools.”

Prepare for Back-to-School

Before you know it, fall will be here and kids will be back to school. In the meantime, parents can do some fun activities that encourage kids to recycle used materials. Check out this post for some ideas.

Schools can also utilize the summer to come up with a new strategy for reducing waste for the next school year.

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