Garbage Free Lunches

Recycling Super Stars

Signal Hill Elementary
  • Grade 2
  • Grade 3
Photo Essay (3–10 images)

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We, Ms. Belyea’s grade 2/3 class of 21 students, challenged the staff and students of Signal Hill Elementary school in Pemberton BC to a garbage free lunch for one whole school week from February 24 – 28, 2020.


Presented with the Go Green Challenge, our class came out of the gates running! After much brainstorming and excited discussions about feasibility, including the definition of the word itself, of course, it was determined that Tavish’s suggestion of having his dad come to install solar panels on the roof of the school was a project just out of our reach. Not to be outdone, Riley proposed that we convert all of the school’s buses into electric vehicles. The classes excitement was palpable! Luckily, we ultimately decided on a more budget-friendly course of action and decided to challenge our school to a week of garbage free lunches. The future of our planet depends on the decisions we make every day and we love our planet!


First, we made it our mission to get the word out. Posters were designed and meticulously created that were hung around the school to inform our fellow students and teachers of our lofty challenge. Then, we gave presentations to every. class. in. our. school; from kindergarten to grade 7! We engaged classes by teaching them about our exciting initiative and sought to stir up a sense of urgency regarding the environment.  We made daily school announcements providing further information and tips about the challenge. We had created quite the stir!

But why stop there we thought? Garbage is coming from home, so we continued on our mission of spreading information and sent home emails to families to get them in on our project. It was official; the Recycling Superstars had gone viral here in Pemberton.


Throughout the week we urged students to continue to recycle and compost in their classes and make the conscious decision to pack foods that didn’t make garbage. It was incredible to see some families making their own bars instead of buying packaged ones! Other families made the choice to pack different kinds of snacks, reducing or altogether eliminating garbage.


Aware that it wasn’t realistic to expect zero garbage, we then asked the students and teachers to put any garbage their class created each day into a special bag with their classes name on it. Every day, after lunch, our grade 2/3 class went to each classroom and collected the bags. We then emptied and sorted these bags to collect the data. We had a sheet for each class and categorized the items in the bag. At the end of the week, we tallied up how much garbage each class made.


As the week went on, we observed students bringing less and less garbage to school. We had successfully engaged the school, created awareness, and were now seeing the fruits of our labour! Even if the Pemberton Grocery Store’s donation of a free pizza lunch party for the classes with the least amount of garbage at the end of the week was a factor, our findings were indisputable. Families, teachers and students had come together to reduce the amount of garbage coming to school. We had the data to back us up that as a school, we can have a great impact on the environment!


Our Findings:

Over the course of the week we had tracked 16 classes, which totaled approximately 355 students, plus staff, who participated in our challenge. We determined that altogether we had collected 517 pieces of garbage, which translates to less than 1.5 pieces of garbage per student for the whole week.


We were more than pleasantly surprised to see that we had also initiated other lasting impacts; as a result of our challenge, the hot lunch team stopped using saran wrap to wrap lunches! And as Recycling Superstars, we have refused to fizzle out and end our project here! We have kept all of the soft plastic that our school does not currently recycle to collect data on it,  and bring it to the facility ourselves for now, with the goal of implementing a soft plastic recycling program here at our school.


We hope to continue to reduce our overall garbage output as a school. We are proud to have stirred such an awareness of the environment needing our help and of the results of our day to day decisions. Hot lunches will now be delivered without saran wrap, families will continue to make choices that make less garbage, we will continue to recycle and compost as well as advocate to have soft plastic recycled at our school. The Recycling Superstars will continue to leave their mark on Signal Hill Elementary School! Next up, We will organize a school wide garbage pick-up in your neighborhood once the snow melts.