Three Santa Monica schools — Franklin Elementary, Grant Elementary, and McKinley Elementary — will participate in the third annual Trash-Free Lunch Challenge, an L.A. County contest that rewards schools for reducing lunchtime trash.
The competition gets underway today, when representatives from each school will attend a training session and tour of the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County’s Puente Hills Landfill and Materials Recovery Facility.
Created by environmental education non-profit Grades of Green and sponsored in part by the City of Santa Monica as well as Santa Monica-based LAcarGUY, the program has more than doubled in scope since its inception two years ago.
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.
“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, Grades of Green’s Director of Programs. “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.”
Once the competing schools implement their Trash-Free Lunch programs, Grades of Green selects three finalists through an application process.
A panel of environmental experts and other judges will evaluate the implementation and success of the three finalists’ programs.
The winning school will receive a Grand Prize of a $1,000 education grant. The second- and third-place schools will receive $750 and $500, respectively.
Though the deadline has passed to compete in this year’s Trash-Free Lunch Challenge, any school may still initiate a Trash-Free Lunch program. Complete instructions are available at no cost to schools at www.gradesofgreen.org/initiatives/trash-redux/trash-free-tuesdays.