Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Topa Topa Kids Study School Waste

Class discovers 6,305 pounds not recycled

By Sondra Murphy
Topa Topa Elementary School students presented the results of their recent waste stream management at a school assembly Friday. Students gathered to learn about ways to reduce the amount of waste the school sends to landfills.
Students of Susan Dvortcsak’s sixth grade class gave an interactive presentation about how recycling was important and ways Topa Topa is participating in recycling. Pollution, landfills, global warming and protecting natural resources were addressed, and the sixth-graders went over the four R’s of recycling: reduce, reuse, recycle and rot.
In one day’s data collection during the November audit, students found 5 pounds of recyclable materials in the first and second grade lunch trash alone. Students then calculated this to be 35 pounds a week, or 6,305 pounds per school year that could be diverted to recycling centers if disposed of properly.
A verbal trash can quiz was given to the audience, with students holding up common school trash items and asking the crowd to tell them in which type of container the items belonged. Students learned that soiled papers or trays belonged in the garbage, while clean versions, cans and plastic bottles could be placed in recycling containers.
Sixth-graders also suggested students bring reusable lunch bags and food containers or tableware in order to reduce the amount of garbage going to landfills. “Cans and bottles are really important because you can get money for them and we are trying to raise money for our school,” said student Danika Davis during the assembly.
Food For Thought is making the waste stream program possible through a $40,000 grant received to study the disposal procedures in the school district. FFT’s aim is to help improve waste procedures throughout the district.
Three OUSD schools are piloting the waste stream program: Meiners Oaks, Topa Topa and Nordhoff, the latter of which has two students involved through their senior projects.
“We’ve maintained the recycling program at Topa for eight years,” said Dvortcsak. “Now we’re just tightening it up.” Part of the presentation included a map display of all the different types of waste bins on campus.
“Now that we have the data, it’s easier to figure out what to do for the kids and adults,” said Heidi Whitman, a program supporter. The waste stream project is ongoing and expected to generate methods for making the district’s waste management as environmentally friendly as possible and establishing better composting methods at all sites.

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