Santa Monica Lookout
Three Santa Monica Schools Compete to Go Trash Free
By Lookout Staff
October 9, 2013 -- Three Santa Monica elementary schools are among two dozen LA County schools competing in the third annual Trash-Free Lunch Challenge, which seeks to reduce lunchtime trash over the school year.
Franklin, Grant and McKinley elementary schools are part of this year’s competition created by environmental education non-profit Grades of Green. The program – which has more than doubled in scope since its inception -- is sponsored in part by the City of Santa Monica and LAcarGUY.
Participating schools ask students to eliminate trash by using reusable lunch containers, water bottles and cloth napkins, organizers said. All students, including those who buy lunch, will be taught how to sort waste for recycling and composting.
“With 24 schools in this year’s program, we expect to see nearly 30,000 more bags of trash diverted from the new schools alone,” said Lisa Coppedge, director of programs for Grades of Green.
“But what’s more important is that an additional 17,500 students will learn how to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost -- new habits that will protect the environment in the years to come,” Coppedge said.
The Trash-Free Lunch Challenge has diverted as many as 40,000 bags of trash from area landfills and saved schools thousands of dollars over two years, according to Coppedge.
“We are thrilled to sponsor Grades of Green as they teach the students how to care for the environment and reduce waste,” said Santa Monica Mayor Pro Tempore Terry O’Day.
“This year’s Challenge will bring the number of kids who’ve been educated on waste reduction to more than 30,000 -- a remarkable achievement,” said Mike Sullivan, founder and president of LAcarGUY, which is sponsoring the event for the second year.
This year, schools in 14 cities are participating in the challenge. Claremont and Long Beach are the only other cities with three schools competing.
The challenge got underway this month, and competing schools are currently implementing their Trash-Free Lunch programs.
Three finalists -- selected by Grades of Green through an application process -- will be evaluated by a panel of environmental experts and other judges.
The winning school will receive a $1,000 education grant, the second place school $750 and third-place school $500.
Last year’s Grand Prize was awarded to Lunada Bay Elementary School in Palos Verdes Estates, which succeeded in reducing its lunchtime trash by 87.5 percent.
Additional sponsors of the Trash-Free Lunch Challenge include the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, Don Knabe of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors-Fourth District, Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, Warner Bros., and Wean Green. Chevron provides the education grants.
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