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Recycling is Simply Elementary
LUNCH WASTE REDUCTION BEGAN AS CLASSROOM LESSONS
The DavisRISE program had its beginnings in the composting lessons of Pioneer Elementary 2nd grade teacher, Dorothy Peterson. Dorothy provided students with small 1 gallon nursery buckets that were turned into miniature composting containers. After a one month take home project to conduct, students returned the project to have 1st graders pick through the buckets with chopsticks to see how the food scraps had decomposed.
PARENT VOLUNTEERS PITCHED IN TO CREATE CAMPUS-WIDE RECYCLING
Dorothy, along with parent volunteer, Jamie Buffington, created living lessons out of recycling and composting. They organized a school-wide program for sorting lunch wastes into trash, recyclables and compostables, and trained the 5th and 6th graders to be monitors to help the younger students learn best practices. They set up recycling stations on the playground and began instructing the children where and how to divide up their lunch waste. Some food scraps went into the pile to be cold composted and vermicomposted in their school garden. Paper and cardboard products went into one bin, while plastics and non-compostables went into others.
The instructional and monitoring support continued continued for two years before the beginning of formal efforts to make the recycling program official with the administration. By this time, the children had learned their recycling protocols so well that when Dorothy and Jamie were absent, the students still carried on with proper recycling.
A PROGRAM WAS BORN: DavisRISE "RECYCLING IS SIMPLY ELEMENTARY"
In 2000, Dorothy and Alameda County Master Composter, Cynthia Havstad, received a grant from the California Integrated Waste Management Board (then CIWMB, now Cal Recycle) to pilot a recycling program at the elementary school level. The purpose of the pilot was threefold: to establish recycling and waste diversion practices in the district; to demonstrate that these practices were cost effective; and to take the best of the pilots to create a template for all eight of the elementary sites to emulate. The program was called DavisRISE; Recycling Is Simply Elementary. During the pilot, Davis Farm to School (DF2S) forged partnerships with CIWMB, Davis Waste Removal, the City of Davis, the RCC consulting group, and the Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD). On the school site level, they partnered with custodians to make them a key part of the recycling team. The pilots showed significant cost savings and the program was eventually adopted at all district elementary schools.
AN AUDIT DOCUMENTED COST SAVINGS AND HELPED SUSTAIN THE PROGRAM
A 2001 audit of the program calculated a projected savings of $32,490 per year for elementary school waste pickup. The DavisRISE program continued to cut waste disposal costs and in 2004-2005 saved over $43,000 for elementary schools. DJUSD agreed to use some of these saved funds to provide stipends for Site Leaders at school sites and a district-level DavisRISE Program Coordinator. This stipulation was critical for the sustainability of the program, because school sites needed an adult presence (a Site Leader) to help enforce procedures and consistency with students’ recycling efforts. In 2005 the RISE program was expanded to middle schools by incoming students who had recycled in elementary school. The secondary level presented new challenges which remain unresolved to date: larger student populations, less direct lunch supervision and larger campus areas.
SUPPORTING EVENTS BECAME IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF THE PROGRAM
Dorothy Peterson hosted the first Custodian Appreciation Luncheon in 2003 at her home to honor them for their hard work and creative collaboration in the DavisRISE program. Since then, the annual Appreciation Luncheon has been sponsored by Davis Farm to School. Now, special recognition awards with monetary stipends are given to nominated custodians and volunteers who have made significant contributions to the program during the year.
In 2005, DF2S and partners sponsored a Recycled Art Faire at the Saturday Davis Farmers Market that included educational activities, a juried art show and a silent auction. All funds went to support equipment needs for the school sites.
In 2009, DavisRISE began participating in a city-wide effort to highlight energy conservation efforts in the community (COOL Davis). The program was also highlighted as a part of a Green Schools Expo.
DavisRISE OFFICIAL MILESTONES
DJUSD adopted a district-wide waste management policy in 2003 and extended it in 2008 to a comprehensive Integrated Waste Management Policy. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2007, formalizing the partnership between Davis Farm to School and DJUSD. The success of the DavisRISE program was shared statewide in 2007 when Dorothy Peterson and parent Marlene Sisemore presented the program to the California State PTA Board and it was formally adopted as a model program for schools across California, clearly stating that the program was replicable for other schools within the state.
The California State PTA’s “COMPREHENSIVE WASTE REDUCTION IN SCHOOLS”
• urges districts to support comprehensive waste reduction programs in their schools
• recommends that schools monitor, document, and report savings from these programs
• encourages schools to foster student/teacher-driven participation in these programs
• promotes the integration of waste reduction and garden composting education into the school curriculum
• stipulates that all PTAs assist district members to become aware of successful recycling/waste reduction programs and practices
In 2010 Davis Farm to School received the City of Davis Environmental Recognition Award.
GROWING THE PROGRAM
To further reduce solid waste by diverting food waste to commercial compost, the DavisRISE program began a compost pilot project in 2011. Measuring and documenting the savings of the program led to its adoption at elementary schools in 2013. This program—the ALL (All Lunch Leftovers) Compost Program—has led to a one-third decrease in the amount of solid waste going to the landfill.
Secondary school sites continue to be a challenge, but progress on recycling and composting systems is being achieved by the Holmes Jr. High “Green Team.” This student-driven team recently won several community awards: 3rd place in the statewide “Keep California Beautiful” contest, a Cool Davis community award in 2014 and a Davis Farm to School award in 2015.
LINKS TO PROGRAM HISTORY
Read about 2005 DavisRISE program activities in the Davis Food Coop’s 2005 newsletter .
DavisRISE also sponsored a Recycled Art Faire in 2005.
An example from 2007 for how to pack a minimal waste lunch.
Find DavisRISE initial pilot data at Media and Data page
DavisRISE program coordinators
2003-2010: Dorothy Peterson
2010-2011 Talia Hack Davies
2011-2012 Carolyn Teragawa
2012-2014 Ximena Jackson
2014-2017 Keri Hawkins
Find out more by clicking on the links below.
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