The Echo Horizon School and Linwood E. Howe Elementary School in Culver City are two of 24 schools competing in the third annual Trash-Free Lunch Challenge, in which schools will see how much lunchtime trash they can divert from landfills.
The challenge, which was created by Manhattan Beach-based Grades of Green, has diverted up to 40,000 bags of trash from area landfills, according to a news release from the organization, which also claims the challenge has saved the schools participating "thousands of dollars."
"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."
Upon implementation of the programs, Grades of Green will select three finalists, and a team of environmental experts and other judges will evaluate the schools' programs. The winner will receive a $1,000 education grant, while the second- and third-place schools will receive grants of $750 and $500, respectively.
The competition begins Wednesday with a visit by representatives from each school to a training session and tour of the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County's Puente Hills Landfill and Materials Recovery Facility.
Suggestions for reducing trash include encouraging students to use reusable lunch containers and water bottles, as well as cloth napkins. Schools will also teach students what trash is recyclable and what should be used for composting.
Last year's winner, Lunada Bay Elementary School in Palos Verdes Estates, reduced its lunchtime trash by 87.5 percent, according to Grades of Green.