Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Reduce is listed first because it’s the most important “R.” Reducing consumption of natural resources reduces the demand and environmental impact caused during the extraction processes.

Waste-free Lunches

Let’s face it: school cafeterias generate a huge amount of trash.  Teach your students and staff the importance of waste reduction by implementing a comprehensive recycling program and encouraging waste-free lunches.

Promoting eco-friendly lunches will significantly:

  • Reduce costs
  • Reduce waste
  • Provide better, nutritious lunches
  • Nurture appreciation for nature and conserve precious natural resources
kid eating

Avoid “single-use” packaging and juice boxes

The first step is to check with your current district waste provider and ask about adding a recycling service for your school.  Many include a comprehensive recycling program, and all you have to do is set up a separate recycle collection bin with clear, pictured signs showing exactly what CAN GO IN THE BIN.

Steps for initiating a Waste-free Lunch program

  • Start by getting “buy-in” from your principal, noon aides, custodian and PTA
  • Check out the toolkits below for helpful tips
  • Host a Cafeteria Sort and help your students understand materials and the importance of conserving natural resources.  Want help? See PLP Program Details
  • Make it fun!  Have your Green Team conduct a skit for the school to help get your message out!  Have kids monitor collection bins to help peers.


Promote initiatives!

Promote initiatives!

Compost Gallery

NOTE regarding Terracycle Brigades: although well-intentioned, this confuses kids and causes contamination in recycling. These uncommon items like juice boxes and snack bags do not actually get recycled; they get repurposed into pencil pouches and backpacks. I feel that efforts to educate and avoid using non-recyclable materials are best. Check out the Waste-Free page to share with families interested in packing waste-free lunches.

Recycle Station Examples

Interested in more tips for the home? CLICK HERE.