Find all sorts of resources here for moving your school along a path to zero waste.

Recycling (with optional signs for Share Table and Tray-Stacking): This set of signs is designed for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) that would like to recycle in the lunchroom. Lunchroom recycling requires a bucket or bin for collecting leftover liquid, since all drink containers must be empty in order to be recycled. Stacking plates will greatly reduce the volume of landfill waste as well as the number of times the custodian needs to change the landfill bags. Note: The cardboard plates used in CPS are compostable in commercial composting facilities. Unless your school has commercial composting service, the plates should be added to the Landfill bin. Click here for dual language signs (English/Spanish). 

Recycling & Commercial Composting (with optional signs for Share Table and Tray-Stacking): This set of signs is designed for CPS schools with commercial composting service. Lunchroom recycling requires a bucket or bin for collecting leftover liquid, since all drink containers must be empty in order to be recycled. Stacking plates significantly reduce the volume they take up, as well as the number of times the custodian needs to change the landfill bags. Note: The cardboard plates used in CPS are compostable in commercial composting facilities. If your school has commercial composting service, the stacked plates can be added to the compost bin at the end of each lunch period. If your school does not have commercial composting service, the plates should be added to the Landfill bin. Click here for dual language signs (English/Spanish)

Recycling & Onsite Composting (with optional signs for Share Table and Tray-Stacking): This set of signs is designed for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) that would like to recycle and do onsite composting. Click here for dual language signs (English/Spanish).

Sample signs for classroom/hallway/office recycling:

Share Table Signs: Share Tables are a great way to prevent good food from going to landfills. A share table is a place where students who take items from a school meal can place them if they choose not to eat them. These items are then made available to other children who may want or need another serving during or after the meal service. See the section of Share Tables in this Toolkit for more information. Click here for dual language signs (English/Spanish).

Cafeteria Culture’s video: How to Assemble the SORT2SAVE Signs

Sorting signs from the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC)

Sign attachment method: A best practice for sign placement is to attach signs directly above the sorting bins. If your sorting bins are against a wall, then they can easily be taped to the wall. But if the bins need to be located away from walls, here is a low-cost method for attaching them. The only materials needed are small hand clamps (available at hardware stores for about $1 each) and rulers or wood shims (also available at hardware stores).

                                  

Lunchroom Sorting Guidance Presentation

Cafeteria Culture’s video: Sorting Station Set-Up Samples

CPS Recycling Guide

Solid Waste Agency of Cook County’s Green Pages Directory for recycling other common items, including: Books, Cartridges/Inkjet Toner, Art Supplies

Visit the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) website to find all sorts of certified compostable products for use in municipal and commercial composting facilities. BPI maintains an up-to-date catalog of companies and products that have met BPI standards.

Packing a zero waste lunch – see Wastefreelunches.org

USDA’s “What You Can Do To Help Prevent Wasted Food

Use condiment dispensers instead of single-use condiment packets

Switch to washable utensils or lunch trays

Switch to recyclable or compostable packaging or service ware

Curricula

Activities & Field Trips

Infographics library

Evanston/Skokie School District 65: This case study focuses on how D65 has made huge strides towards becoming zero waste after years of hard work and determination. Thanks to dedicated parents, students, and staff, and key support at the district level, D65 is significantly reducing waste in two ways — sourcing compostable lunch trays and composting food scraps.

Spring Lake Elementary School: An Illinois school garden case study.