Slashing trash at AHS means getting your hands dirty – literally. The new initiative is part of the AHS SAVE Club that encompasses student efforts on waste reduction, gardening and sustainability.

Formed last spring, the Slash the Trash team is committed to teaching students about the importance of food waste reduction, composting and recycling. Their goals are to reduce AHS cafeteria waste and educate all Arlington students about the importance of waste reduction.

The Problem

According to the FDA, food makes up the largest occupier of municipal landfills in the U.S., and the EPA estimates it is responsible for 14.5% of methane emissions. Reducing the amount of food that goes to the landfill directly reduces the amount of methane emissions released into the atmosphere.

Solution: Sorting Cafeteria Waste

Slash the Trash student leaders Sadie Ford, Walter Paul Vincent and Sophie Shen recognize the significance of reducing food waste. To do their part, they have implemented a lunch waste sorting crew in the AHS cafeteria. Each day, student volunteers sort compost, recycling and trash and educate fellow students on what items should go where. Properly sorting food waste, single use plastics and compostable materials not only reduces contamination of the compost and recycling, but it also reduces the overall amount of trash. 

Solution: Share Table

After finding unopened chip bags, cheese sticks and fresh fruit in the trash, the team implemented a ‘share table’ in the cafeteria. Frequently, school lunches are bundled and pre-packaged and students do not have the option to refuse items they do not want. As a result, unwanted food is thrown away. The share table accomplishes two things: it saves perfectly good food from being discarded, and offers additional food to students who want more to eat. 

Results: ~25% Reduction in Waste

These two efforts have reduced the amount of trash generated by the AHS cafeteria by approximately 25%. That equates to roughly 540 bags of trash per school year removed from the waste stream. The team’s longer-term goal is to educate elementary school students on the importance of caring for the environment. 

Do you know of an AHS student interested in joining the Slash the Trash team? They can sign up here.

Browse Categories

Join our email list

You May Also Like

Project Zero: Student-run low-waste event services

Project Zero: Student-run low-waste event services

Project Zero, a student-run volunteer group, offers low-waste event services for Town events and sports banquets by providing durable, reusable tableware (dishes, utensils, cups), washable tablecloths, and set-up and clean-up support.