Oak Hills Elementary School in Ventura County has an aggressive lunch waste reduction goal: zero-waste generation. Several years ago the school introduced the waste reduction or "zero-waste” policy during lunch and snack times and it has been going strong ever since. This program was also implemented throughout Oak Park Unified School District and has been included in its Waste Management and Environmental Purchasing Procedures (Oak Park District Board Policy 3511.2).
Oak Hills waste reduction policy contains the following guidelines:
- Students who bring lunch or snacks to school will use only reusable containers or sacks.
- All food in this container will be packaged in reusable containers.
- Napkins must be cloth and reusable--no paper.
- Students will not bring food to school that is packaged. Parents are encouraged to purchase food in larger quantities and then use reusable containers to send it to school.
- Drinks must be in reusable containers or recyclable containers.
- Acceptable recyclable containers include plastic with a recycling code of 1 or 2 on the bottom or aluminum cans.
- No Glass. The preferable method is to send drinks to school in a Thermos or other container.
- No straws are allowed.
- Small box drink containers are prohibited.
All students at Oak Hills engage in school service projects as part of their day. Students work in rotating teams to monitor and sort recyclables as well as remind younger students not to throw away reusable containers. The school service responsibilities differ by age and are listed in Oak Hills’ Handbook.
Since the implementation of the zero-waste policy, along with other waste reduction activities, Oak Hills Elementary has reduced the volume of trash from eight 55-gallon cans down to one—a reduction of nearly 90 percent. Besides reducing waste and eating healthier food, the students have found another positive benefit of the new rules—less time spent cleaning up the trash means more recess time.
For more information about the Oak Hills School program call (818) 707-4224.