Zero Waste Classroom - Transition Berkeley

On November 2, 2017, Transition Berkeley presented a wonderful program titled "Zero Waste Classroom and Beyond” with Oxford public school teacher Jacqueline Omania and her students from 3rd, 4th and 5th grades for our monthly environmental movie night at Fellowship Hall in Berkeley.

The students gave presentations about their experience trying to make their classroom a Zero Waste classroom. We were incredibly impressed by their enthusiasm and the degree to which they were able to reduce the amount of waste they generated in the classroom. So far this year, after 45 school days, the third graders had generated less than one quart jar's worth of trash, and after 60 days just one quart of trash, because they compost, recycle and refuse to bring wasteful single-use items into the classroom.

Last year Jacqueline's students only generated 3 five-gallon bags of landfill waste for the entire school year, a ground-breaking effort considering other classrooms generated on average about 360 five-gallon bags of landfill waste for the year! The students feel empowered by their efforts, knowing they are helping save resources, protect the environment, and save the district money that can be better used for their education.

Ms. Omania reports that her students have recently received recognition from our local national park here in the San Francisco Bay Area. She says: "We have been so fortunate to be acknowledged for our work by Presidio Trust (part of the National Park Service) in San Francisco.  They have donated sets of bamboo cutlery (To-Go Ware) for each student to support them in their journey."

The Berkeley Unified School District should be so proud of the students, their teacher and the work they are doing. They have also created two films about their project (see "Trash Tales" and "Trash Tales Results" on YouTube). Parents of the students in Jacqueline's class reported the positive effect the students have had on the Refuse, Reuse and Recycle habits of their families at home. This is the kind of project that we need to make the big changes necessary for our society to heal our environment.

Article by Carole Bennett-Simmons, Transition Berkeley
Photo credit: The Berkeley Times

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