La Mariposa Student Eco Team Conducts Waste Audit

by Natalie Swarts, Eco Team Leader, La Mariposa PTA

“There is only so much room available for solid waste disposal, and because landfills are so tightly packed, it takes a great deal of time for material to decompose. The easiest way to reduce solid waste is to reduce your consumption of daily products. Be cautious of what you buy, and whether anything you are going to put in a trash can really belongs there.”

La Mariposa completed our first Waste Audit on December 13th.   Students and parents worked together to sort everything that was thrown away during an entire school day.  The Eco Team met on January 18th to discuss the Waste Audit results and talk about goals for reducing waste.  Take a look at the chart below:

Waste Audit Chart

54 lbs of unopened food was collected in a single day.

54 lbs of unopened food was collected in a single day.

Participants were surprised to discover that we had 54 lbs of unopened food, including whole sandwiches, cartons of milk, bags of chips and untouched granola bars.  (picture) Additionally, we found almost 90 lbs of partially eaten food and 7 lbs of ziplock bags – from only one day!  In total, we threw away over 300 pounds of trash, which means our school likely sends over 54,000 lbs (or 24 tons) of waste to the landfill each year.

Student Comments & Suggestions

  • Some students are afraid to tell their parents that they don’t eat all of their lunch, so they choose to throw food away.
  • People put regular trash in recycling bins.
  • We should put up signs in the lunch area that say, “Do not waste.”
  • Tell friends where the recycle bins are located.
  • Remind friends to only put paper in the classroom paper recycling bins.
  • Include waste reduction tips and reminders in morning announcements.
  • Use bright colors and pictures to decorate the recycling bins.
  • Start vermicomposting bins for more classrooms.

In addition to helping implement the suggestions made by Eco Team members, the entire student body has an opportunity to contribute to a La Mariposa Mission Statement related to waste reduction.  The Eco Code/Mission Statement can be in any format.  It could be a list of statements, a song or rap, a picture, or a poem.  Please submit Eco Codes to your teacher by February 15th.

Sample Eco-Code (from Eco-Schools Program Ireland)

T.R.A.S.H: Try Recycling Ashbourne Shows How


Paper will not be wasted;

All pages in copy will be filled;

Photocopies will be backed;

Every box, paper and cardboard will be reused, recycled and therefore reduced;

Reduction of paper is our aim.

Sample Eco CodeCurrent Waste Reduction Activities at La Mariposa

  • Vermicomposting: Mrs. Rudolph’s 2nd Grade class has started vermicomposting and students are on their way to becoming La Mariposa’s worm experts.
  • Drink Pouch Recycling: During a 10 week period, La Mariposa collected 6,333 drink pouches and raised almost $200 through Terracycle. Please remind students to continue discarding empty drink pouches (Capri Sun, Honest Kid, Kool Aid, etc) into the designated green trash can because many drink pouches are still bring thrown away into the gray bins marked “landfill.”
  • Battery & Ink Carton Collection: Containers are located in the front office.  Click here for other recycling locations.
  • Paper Recycling: All classrooms have paper recycling bins that are emptied by Student Leadership on Fridays and picked up by RSI Shredding.
  • Glue Stick Recycling: Student Leadership collects empty glue sticks from each classroom for the Terracycle program.

How to Reduce Your Household Waste

Click here for Tips On How to Decrease Your Household Waste


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