The NRRA School Recycling Club

Northeast Resource Recovery Association

School News You Can Use – May 2014


  • CLUB News
    • Concord High School
    • Henry W. Moore School
    • Weston Elementary School
  • 5th Annual School Recycling Conference
  • Students Making a Difference
  • In the News



It’s Not Too Late To Sign Up for the Conference and Get Half Off if You Work at or attend a NH School!

The CLUB, in conjunction with the Annual Northeast Recycling Conference & Expo, will host the Annual School Recycling Conference on Tuesday June 10th. This conference provides a full day of educational workshops and activities specifically tailEco Tree with environment symbolsored to school issues in recycling and the solid waste industry. The Conference & Expo is a great opportunity for students, teachers and administrators who are interested in learning more about school recycling, expanding their programs, increasing the efficiency of their current program, adding recycling education to their curricula, exchanging ideas, sharing philosophies, and further promoting waste reduction efforts. The Conference & Expo features workshops hosted by nationally recognized organizations and speakers, as well as hands-on activities that get students learning about recycling and waste reduction in a fun interactive way! During lunch, NRRA, and the School CLUB supporter, New Hampshire the Beautiful, present the School CLUB Recycling Awards in front of the entire conference audience.

Click here to view schedule of workshops and other information!
School Information is on page 5.

**Also, please note if you are a NH student, educator or administrator there are grant opportunities available to offset the cost of attendance. Please call Caitlin at 603.736.4401 or email**


Trash On the Lawn Day at Concord High School

Thursday, May 8th, 2014 Concord High School EnviroCore Students conducted a school-wide waste sort. This “Trash on the Lawn Day” (TOLD) is a thought-provoking service- learning project that assesses a school’s waste management issues and DSCN0410opportunities for improvement, while fostering student leadership. This tool for positive change examines waste management practices, purchasing policies, hauling agreements and diversion opportunities. The TOLD produced a baseline of how much and what is not getting recycled that could be. TDSCN0417he students sorted 275 lbs. of trash and found that only 25 lbs. of that was actually trash! The students, teachers, administration and the district were impressed with the effort, taken back by the results and inspired to make changes. Students not in EnviroCore came out and asked if they could help, which they did, and were curious of the results. Concord High’s EnviroCore Club hopes to use the data collected at the TOLD for next year’s recycling efforts, and there is talk about starting a composting program since compost & liquid made up over 70% of the waste sorted.

Concord High School volunteered to host a TOLD with the NRRA School Recycling CLUB’s help. This program is sponsored by NH the Beautiful. The NRRA School Recycling CLUB also coordinated a similar event on the 14th at the Henry W. Moore School in Candia, NH, in conjunction with their Agricultural/Environmental Day (see below).



Henry W. Moore School (Candia, NH) Host Garbage Guerrillas Workshop


Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 in conjunction with their Agricultural Day the  Henry W. Moore Students participated in the NRRA School Recycling CLUB’s workshop, Garbage Guerrillas. This waste sort is a mini version of the TOLD (Trash TOLD 5On the Lawn Day) workshops offered by the CLUB. This isa great workshop for the younger grades and when only a short amount of time is available.

The Moore school had over 30 presenters that attended the annual event. Most were from the local area, but a few traveled quite a distance to be there. The entire student body of about 400 , from kindergarten to eighth grade was involved. Presentations are designated for specific grades so that the presenters can plan age appropriate programs and the students can learn about different topics each year.

The event now covers more than agriculture. There is an environmental component as well. In addition to sheep shearing, horse shoeing, beekeeping, alpaca petting, beef and venison farmers, poultry, pigs, learning about invasive bugs and Master Gardeners, there are programs on animal rehabilitation, recycling, timber framing by the Jesse Remington High School and conservation.

Support from the community has helped too. The local Agway donates fencing for the day. The middle school students help set up the fencing and host the speakers by showing them to their area for the day.NHTB_logo1

The CLUB was very excited to be part of this great service learning day, and the students had fun and seemed to learn a lot as well. This program was sponsored by NH the Beautiful.

The World of Worms
Weston Elementary Students Learn about Vermicomposting

NRRA School Recycling CLUB Educator Cindy Sterling and her Red Wigglers made their way to Manchester, NH DSCN0340to visit 120 students at Weston Elementary. These amazing composting machines caused excitement and squeals! Students ranging from 2nd to 4th grade learned about the Red Wigglers, the importance of diverting organics from the waste stream and how that and recycling helps our environment.

Weston, Central and Hillside volunteered to be part of the pilot program that has been conducted over the school year.  The overall goal was to help implement a more efficient and sustainable recycling program in each school.  This program helped increase recyDSCN0358cling and reduce waste, thereby decreasing disposal costs for the school district.  It also increased awareness and helped motivate and empower students and staff to make a difference and improve their environment.  The pilot program was sponsored by the NRRA School Recycling CLUB and was made possible by funds donated by NHtB, with cooperation from the Manchester School District, the City of Manchester, Waste Management and Aramark.  Hands on, school-wide activities, including educational workshops such as the worm workshop was also an integral part of this program.



Weston Elementary School also has a new Table to Farm program with a local farm that is licensed to take food scraps to feed their pigs. They’ve decreased their trash output dramatically to less than one bag at breakfast (Weston has over 600 students), and they’ve now expanded this program to include lunches as well.

IMG_1129 IMG_1128 IMG_1116

Thirteen percent of carbon pollution emissions in the United States are associated with the growing, manufacturing, transporting, and disposing of food. More food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in municipal solid waste. In 2012 alone, more than 36 million tons of food waste was generated, with only five percent diverted from landfills and incinerators for composting. Reducing the amount of food wasted has significant economic, social & environmental benefits – including the reduction of carbon pollution.

Reducing food waste reduces methane and other greenhouse gas emissions and improves sanitation, public safety, and overall health. By reducing the amount of food we waste, we can reduce carbon pollution and improve quality of life for Americans. (from EPA, Weston Elementary School is applauded for doing their part!


Would you like to host a TOLD, Garbage Guerrillas or another Workshop at your school? Let the CLUB Help!

  • Improves academic performance, especially in science and math
  • Can lead to financial savings for schools
  • Decreases the school’s carbon footprint through practical solutions that reduce NRRA CLUB applergclippedenergy and water consumption
  • Reduces school waste and conserves natural resources
  • Encourages student environmental awareness and stewardship
  • Increases parental involvement
  • Helps students and teachers develop stronger relationships with their communities

Previous EPA EE-funded research at over 200 New England schools completed by the NRRA School Recycling CLUB (the CLUB) found that the single most challenging area for school recycling programs was in providing curriculum integrations that brought recycling and sustainability into classrooms to be used as the subject matter for meeting state and local curriculum standards.  The intention of the CLUB programs is to address just that issue in schools across all six New England states.

Our goal is to use the CLUB’s workshops and technical assistance programs, all experiential and hands on, as a tool for educating K-12 students about consumption, proper diversion of waste, the resulting impacts on climate change and what they can do to change it.  Through these offerings, we are also afforded the opportunity to link these priorities to curriculum standards.  In addition, these workshops will model, for educators or community leaders, exemplary ways of teaching in creative, effective, and efficient methods about human health threats from environmental pollution as well as how to minimize human exposure to preserve good health.

Click here to learn more or contact us at or call 1.603.736.4401 ext. 17




Students Making a Difference

EPA Recognizes Environmental Innovation at World’s Largest Science Competition for High School Students

Miriam Terese Demasi wins EPA Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award and will participate in National Sustainable Design Expo in 2015

WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Miriam Terese Demasi as the winner of its 2014 Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award for her project to develop a sustainable, affordable and environmentally sound building material for earthquake-prone areas in the developing world to use in place of adobe, demonstrating a commitment to environmental sustainability and stewardship.

The high school freshman of Wheeling Park High School, Wheeling, West Virginia was selected from over 1,783 young scientists and engineers competing in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) this week in Los Angeles, CA. Ms. Demasi won the EPA Award for her project titled, Safe and Sound Housing: Lime/Fly Ash Papercrete as a Substitute for Adobe in Seismically-Active Regions in Developing Nations.  
“Each year these young students competing at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair demonstrate the importance of science, technology, engineering and math education in creating the next generation of scientists to find solutions to environmental problems,” said Robert Kavlock, deputy assistant administrator for science for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “We are proud to highlight this year’s award winner for her project that provides a sustainable solution to using waste products and providing housing in seismically active regions.”

The EPA Patrick H. Hurd award funds the student winner and a chaperone to participate in and display the student’s project at EPA’s National Sustainable Design Expo featuring the P3: People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) Student Design Competition for Sustainability. Held each spring in Washington, DC, the National Sustainable Design Expo brings together student innovators, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and businesses that are working to create a sustainable future.

The Expo, which is free and open to the public, is a unique opportunity to discover innovative, cutting-edge environmental technologies developed by university students and their faculty advisors, learn what nonprofit organizations and government agencies are doing to advance sustainability, experience sustainable products that are currently available, and recruit talented hires with diverse educational backgrounds.

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair is the world’s largest pre-college science competition. Students advance to it from several levels of local and school-sponsored, regional, and state fairs showcasing their independent research. The Society for Science & the Public, a non-profit organization dedicated to public engagement in scientific research and education, owns and has administered the International Science and Engineering Fair since its inception in 1950. The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair encourages millions of students worldwide to explore their passion for innovation and develop solutions for global challenges.

See The Billboard That Eats Pollution

The ginormous ads are an eyesore—but ones that make breathing easier? Yes, please.

By Staff Writer Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at GOOD.full bio

Let’s face it: There’s no escape from billboards. On our daily commutes we’re bombarded with the eyesore of advertisements encouraging us to buy goods and services. Sure, some of the ginormous posters are socially responsible—and then there’s American Apparel’s sexist imagery that makes us wish every one of the ads would disappear from the face of the earth. But if billboards start sucking smog from the air, maybe we can cut them some slack.

Indeed, a massive, smog-sucking poster has been created by Lima, Peru–based engineering college UTEC. This isn’t the school’s first time at the environmentally responsible billboard rodeo. Last year, to address Lima’s rainfall shortage, the school came up with a billboard that creates water by sucking it from the city’s super-humid air.

Along with promoting the campus, this latest advertisement addresses another problem that the university created: air pollution due to construction of campus buildings. As the video above shows, the billboard uses Lima’s humidity to trap particulate matter in the air. The school claims that just one of the billboards is the purifying equivalent of 1,200 trees.

Sure, reducing our CO2 emissions absolutely needs to be the priority. But given that Beijing was so smoggy last winter that the only way to see the sky was through a fake sun billboard, we need all the pollution-cutting help we can get.

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Composting: Teachers Love It—and It’s Saving Schools Money

Going green has never had so many benefits.

School Composting: Teachers Love It—and It Saves Schools Money
Composting is catching on at schools where it’s renewing unexpected resources. (Photo: iStock)





A Bay Area native, Andri Antoniades has previously worked as a fashion industry journalist and a medical writer.

full bio follow me

Schools across America are increasingly adopting a practice that not only saves them thousands of dollars and benefits the environment, but offers students hands-on projects that correspond to the curriculum at every grade level. Surprisingly enough, this sensational practice is composting.

Early to the green bin game, San Francisco already had the infrastructure in the ’90s to be the first to place the receptacles in school cafeterias, and now at least 80 percent of the city’s public schools have them. Not surprisingly, of the other districts with strong school composting programs are Portland and Seattle, as well as many other districts in Oregon and Washington state.

Tamar Hurwitz, environmental education manager at the San Francisco Department of the Environment, says she’s shared start-up information with many municipalities, like Cambridge, MA, Denver, CO, and even rural Bellingham, WA. Now that people are learning the role it plays in reducing greenhouse gas, Hurwitz says, “Composting is today what recycling was in the ’80s.” In other words, it’s about to explode.

Since New York state launched its school organic waste collection pilot program at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, 16 schools and 17 colleges have taken part, with 10 more in the process of joining. One of those schools is the Syracuse Academy of Science Charter School, which the Utica Observer-Dispatch reports saved more than $6,000 annually in trash disposal fees, which run about $70 per ton.

Mary Schwarz, extension support specialist for the Cornell Waste Management Institute, says that up to 80 percent of typical school “garbage” is actually compostable material. After the recyclables and liquids are also separated out, only about five percent of what gets thrown in the garbage is actual trash. Realizing that, more schools have willingly adopted composting programs to save on waste management costs.

But there are further economic benefits to the process. Compost, which is the rich substance created from decomposed organic materials, can be used as a soil conditioner for school gardens, landscaping, and athletic fields, preventing the need for costly and environmentally damaging fertilizers.

But the benefits hardly stop there.

Christine Robertson, the director of education at Earth Day Network, an environmental umbrella NGO organizing the Green Schools Campaign, says that composting contains an important educational opportunity—engendering personal accountability among students and faculty. “From an environmental studies perspective it teaches us other ways to use our waste,” she says. “We talk about reduce, reuse, recycle, but [composting] is all of those things.”

The benefit for teachers in particular is that composting can be easily tied into different curriculums. “From a science education standpoint, it’s really important,” Robertson says. “The composting process teaches scientific concepts related to how ecosystems function… It’s a hands-on activity that demonstrates the nitrogen cycle, how things biodegrade, and gives students a window into these processes that they typically don’t see other than in an infographic in their textbooks.”

Kim Chaloner, the Dean of Community Life and 9th grade biology teacher at Grace Church School in Manhattan, agrees that, “There are a lot of entry points for the kids.” In the early childhood program, after clearing their own lunch tables, the youngest students take their compostables to a worm bin in their homeroom to learn how food decomposes. Elementary school students relate the practice to their lessons on conserving resources and energy. And high school students, who are taught to cook their own food, composting has been integrated as a final step in their process.

“I’m really happy that a lot of what we started is run by the students,” Chaloner says. “They feel that they own it and that’s really important.”

While a school’s administration or grounds team may be the ones to introduce composting, teachers also can take the initiative by talking to their principal, maintenance, or cafeteria staff, or by planning a small classroom project, using mini compost bins with their students.

Local waste management departments or non-profit organizations like the Cornell Waste Management Institute provide resources for interested educators and schools. And with them, schools interested in a larger program can strategize whether off-site composting is the appropriate option, or whether it’s preferable to keep the process on school grounds so the compost can be used for landscaping, gardening, and expanded educational opportunities.

A schoolwide program generally begins with a careful analysis of the school’s trash. Mary Schwarz refers to it as a “weigh and sort,” where students and faculty devote a day to keeping their waste materials in separate bins: one that holds compostables, another for recyclables, and a third for actual garbage. At the end of the day, once each bin has been weighed, faculty and students can get a dramatic understanding of how much compostable material they’re creating, and how much of it they’ve been throwing into the garbage.

“I think starting small and focusing on what’s really practical is what makes it possible to really stay on the program,” says Kim Chaloner. Her own school’s program started five years ago with a few classroom projects. With some lessons on worm composting from the Lower East Side Ecology Center and help from books like Mary Apelhoff’s Worms Ate My Garbage, those small steps grew into a school-wide initiative.

And that practice has had community impact. “A lot of parents tell me that they started composting at home because the kids were doing it at school,” Chaloner says.

But for students and teachers who have never done it, composting can admittedly seem a little weird. “Some kids think ‘Eww, I don’t want to separate out my food,'” Schwarz says. “But after they get involved in the process, they realize it’s really a fun and cool thing to do.”

This article was created as part of the social action campaign for the documentary TEACH, produced by TakePart’s parent company, Participant Media, in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates.


Here’s How Climate Change Will Make Food Less Nutritious

A new study suggests that having more CO2 in the atmosphere will cause levels of zinc and iron in important staple crops to drop.

(Photo: Geri Lanov/Getty Images)




May 08, 2014 By

Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor. He has written for The Awl, The New Inquiry, and elsewhere. full bio follow me

There are two things you want to get from a harvest. First there’s yield, the amount of grains, beans, or fruit you pull from the fields—and that’s where the focus is placed much of the time, both from the farmer’s perspective and in terms of plant breeding and global development conversations. The other, which isn’t so apparent on the farm, is nutrition. A study published this week in Nature suggests that as CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase in the coming decades, yields may increase. But even as farmers have more wheat, rice, and beans to harvest and eat, the nutrition levels in those staple crops—namely, zinc and iron—are going to drop.

Just last year, the world crossed the dubious threshold of 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. By using CO2 jets placed around test plots, the study created growing conditions that approximate a future in which those levels creep upward of 500 parts per million. The grains and legumes grown in this environment had anywhere between 5 and 10 percent less iron, zinc, and protein too. The increase in nutritional deficiencies these drops could cause “represents the most significant health threat ever shown to be associated with climate change,” according to a Harvard press release.

In the United States, where iron is something we control in our diets with pricey steaks or supplements and where zinc is barely an active nutritional concern, a drop in these nutrients doesn’t sound all that troubling. But globally, 2 billion people suffer from zinc and iron deficiencies, amounting to the loss of 63 million life-years annually, according to the study, which was led by the Harvard School of Public Health. Zinc deficiency can lead to an increase in infectious diseases because of its effect on the immune system, and anemia caused by low iron levels contributes to 20 percent of maternal deaths, according to the World Health Organization. That’s at current CO2 levels.

In countries that rely on rice, which is naturally low in iron and zinc, as a staple crop instead of wheat, these deficiencies are already more pronounced. But the only potential upside of the study is that the drop in nutrients varied depending on the variety of rice grown in the future-climate test plots. As such, researchers see an opportunity for plant breeders to develop varieties that, like some of the rice cultivars used in the test, will be less sensitive to the increase of CO2, instead of focusing on breeding to increase yields. There are also breeding efforts focused on increasing the nutrient levels in staple crops through selective breeding and genetic modification.