Posts Tagged ‘trash free school’

Never Too Young To Make a Difference: 5th Graders Divert School Waste from Landfills

July 10th, 2018

Students from CCPCS participate in the Trash Timeline activity, which explores decomposition rates of different materials.

This past school year, hundreds of students from around the region participated in the Trash Free Schools program. Students learned about waste production, the impacts of litter on the environment and took action to clean up their communities and waterways.

Through a Community Stormwater Solutions grant from the District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), Alice Ferguson Foundation staff worked with Capital City Public Charter School (CCPCS) to engage 80 fifth graders in creative student-led action projects to prevent litter, clean up waterways, and ensure healthy communities in the District. 

During a program led by Alice Ferguson Foundation staff, students explored decomposition rates of commonly littered items by creating a visual timeline. Student also conducted a waste audit in their cafeteria to learn about the kinds of trash produced at the school.

Results from cafeteria waste audit at Capital City Public Charter School. These results informed student-led action projects.

Two field trips, first to Hard Bargain Farm and then to the Fort Totten Transfer Station, supplemented the student’s learning by highlighting what happens to trash, recycling and composting after they leave our schools and homes.

Alice Ferguson Foundation staff met with students to brainstorm and discuss potential action projects and provide feedback on detailed project proposals. Students decided to launch an expanded trash disposal station, which would allow them to expand recycling, expand composting and create a table for unwanted and untouched food for sharing. Students designed the disposal station, created signs to explain proper sorting and volunteered to stand by the sorting station to help students properly dispose of their lunch waste.

Thanks to the students hard work, the station was launched in mid-May and has already helped to divert more than 100 pounds of compost and recycling from the landfill!

If you’re interested in joining the Trash Free Schools program, email us at [email protected] or call (301)292-5665.

5 Local Schools That Are Making A Difference

June 22nd, 2017
by Julia Saintz, Community Outreach Coordinator

Throughout the 2016-2017 school year, we conducted a number of waste reduction, litter prevention and school yard cleanup projects in Prince George’s County, MD and Washington, D.C. through our Trash Free Schools program. Check out a few highlights below!

Phyllis E. Williams Elementary School in Prince George’s County, MD has posted the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign in English and Spanish at the entrance of their school.

Fourth graders from Washington International School
in Washington, D.C. did a Cleanup on the National Mall.  One student even rescued a turtle that was caught in rope!

Anne Beers Elementary School
in Washington, D.C. had a school yard cleanup and removed a whole bag of trash from their schoolyard!  Below you can see us playing an observation game to wrap up the cleanup.

Parkside Middle School
in Washington D.C. painted litter cans that will be adopted at the school and in the Parkside Community to reduce litter.


Capital City Public Charter School
fifth graders in Washington, D.C. spent the school year brainstorming and planning action projects to make their school more trash free.  In the end, they presented the actions to their school administration and maintenance staff!

Are you inspired?  Reach out to us to plan an event for next school year at your school. Let’s partner on student-led action projects, Adopt a Litter Can painting, a school yard cleanup, in-classroom presentations, and more!



First Trash Free Schools In Charles County, MD!

January 24th, 2013

By Sara Campbell, Outreach Coordinator 

We would like to welcome Gale Bailey Elementary and Indian Head Elementary,  the first Trash Free Schools in Charles County, MD!  They have signed the Trash Free Schools Pledge and are working to reduce waste at their schools.  Both schools have very active school communities and are also involved in our Schoolyards as Classrooms Project.

Indian Head Elementary is a Maryland Green School and will use the Trash Free Schools Project to help maintain their Maryland Green School status.  Actions completed through the Trash Free Schools Project will be documented (as described in the Trash Free Schools Project’s Eight Steps Table) and used for Maryland Green school re-certification.  Future actions include weighing the trash from each classroom as a competition to increase school recycling and reduce waste sent to the landfill.  Students will help with the effort by monitoring bins and collecting the trash weight data.  Teachers will be able to incorporate data into their lessons by having students create graphs and calculate the change in waste over time for each classroom to determine the winner.

Gale-Bailey Elementary is also a Maryland Green School and has a thriving Green Club that conducted a roadside cleanup last Fall with students, staff, families, and community members. They have also conducted schoolyard cleanups and completed other service projects at their school. The Green Club does weekly announcements to the school and has taught their peers how to properly recycle in the lunchroom as well as helped the school eliminate polystyrene lunch trays from the cafeteria.  Gale Bailey Elementary will use the Trash Free Schools Project to provide resources and suggestions to further involve students in reducing waste at the school.

Congratulations to Indian Head Elementary and Gale Bailey Elementary schools on their commitment to take action and reduce waste!

Outdoor lessons at Accokeek Academy

January 16th, 2013

By Sara Campbell, Outreach Coordinator

Through our Schoolyards as Classrooms Project, the Alice Ferguson Foundation partners with local schools to use their schoolyards as outside classrooms.  As the coordinator for this project, I work with teachers at several local schools to get students outside and engage them in the topics they are currently learning in the classroom.  The activities and lessons are tailored to fit a school’s needs, interests, and goals while utilizing resources available at the school and meeting each teacher’s standards and curriculum needs.  The big goal is to get kids engaged and learning outside.

In December, I was a part of several great outdoor lessons at Accokeek Academy! One of the lessons was with the 3rd grade students in which we used compasses and anemometers to investigate wind speed and wind direction outside in the schoolyard.  I was very impressed with how engaged and excited the students were with the lessons.  As the students became more familiar with how to use the compass, they began expanding the lesson to investigate the direction of the sun, the school building, and other nearby objects.  Even though there wasn’t much wind that day, the students found creative ways to test the anemometer, like running down the hill to take wind speed readings.

The students also made connections between our outside lesson and their classroom lessons on weather.  We discussed the types of clouds, making weather predictions based on the types of clouds observed, how clouds form, and how a compass works.  They were able to use what they learned in the classroom and apply it to our outside lesson (with a real world application), which provided their teacher with a way to informally assess the progress of each student.  After the lesson, their teacher remarked on how engaged the students were during our outside lesson and that it sparked an interest in the students to learn more about weather, the tools that meteorologists use, and how these tools are made.

It was a very fun day and I look forward to our next lessons outside using the schoolyard as our classroom!

Will Your School Have Less Trash This Year?

December 11th, 2012

By Sara Campbell, Outreach Coordinator  and Becky Williams, Naturalist Associate

That’s the question we ask every group that visits us. At Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center, we are working to become a trash free facility and we challenge our visiting groups to pack a Trash Free Lunch and bring as little trash as possible during their visit. There are many simple things that everyone can do to bring less trash on their visit. We encourage visitors to think ahead when deciding what to bring for lunch and snacks, and consider the packaging that the food comes in. The most important place to make decisions that will contribute to packing a trash free lunch is in the store. While at the store, use the Four R’s (Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle) to help you have less waste to “throw away”:

Rethink:stop and think about alternatives with less trash
Example: Instead of buying premade lunches with a lot of packaging (such as Lunchables), buy the components separately and make them the lunch yourself.

Reduce: use less stuff, produce less trash
Example: Buying items in bulk reduces the amount of packaging required and saves money in the long run.

Reuse: use items more than once
Example: Instead of a brown bag that will be used only once, bring a lunch box that can be reused and will not contribute to the waste steam. Also, reuse plastic containers and sandwich bags instead of buying new ones for sandwiches and snacks.

Recycle: use resources or nutrients to make something else
Example: When at the store, choose items that have recyclable or reusable packaging; save containers from yogurt, cottage cheese, or takeout and use them to pack your lunch. It’s a great way to practice all of the Four R’s!

During a visit to the farm, we weigh the trash (destined for the landfill) for each group and record the amount on a chart to compare with visits in previous years. The students like to see if they were able to have less trash than the previous class. Through this Trash Free Lunch activity, students realize that thinking is the key to reducing trash. The ‘aha’ moment is when they realize that individually, they CAN make a difference, especially in their schools and in their families.

Students and school staff can then build upon what they learned during their visit to Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center through our Trash Free Schools Project by working together to reduce waste at their school. The Trash Free Schools Project provides resources and guidance to schools to help rethink, reduce, reuse, and recycle while engaging and educating students throughout the process.

For more on the Four R’s and how to make less trash, visit our Take out the Trash online activity. Then test your trash free lunch packing skills in our online Trash Free Lunch Game.  Can you create a lunch with zero waste?
Take the challenge and then tell us how you create less waste when packing your lunch!