Trash Free Lunch Challenge


A record 24 L.A.-area schools will compete this year in Grades of Green's third annual Trash-Free Lunch Challenge, sponsored in part by the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County. The program, which will teach more than 17,000 students how to reduce lunchtime trash, has more than doubled in scope since its inception two years ago. Participating schools will ask students to eliminate trash by using reusable lunch containers, reusable water bottles and cloth napkins. All students, including those who buy lunch, will be taught how to sort waste for recycling and composting.

“We are proud of the remarkable effectiveness of the Trash-Free Lunch Challenge and its continued growth,” said Grace Robinson Hyde, Sanitation Districts Chief Engineer and General Manager. “This year’s Challenge will bring the number of students who’ve been educated on waste reduction to more than 30,000.”

The 24 schools participating in this year’s Trash-Free Lunch Challenge include:

Arlington Elementary School
Aveson Charter School
Chaparral Elementary School
Diamond Ranch High School
Echo Horizon School
Foster Road Elementary School
Franklin Elementary School
Grant Elementary School
Jane Addams Middle School
Jefferson Leadership Academies
John Adams Middle School
Jordan Middle School
Leuzinger High School
Linwood Howe Elementary School
Lowell Elementary School
Magruder Middle School
McKinley Elementary School
Oakmont Outdoor School
Parras Middle School
Rice Elementary School
St. John Fisher Parish School
Verdugo Woodlands Elementary School
Vista del Valle Elementary School

In just two years, the Trash-Free Lunch Challenge has diverted as many as 40,000 bags of trash from area landfills and saved schools thousands of dollars over two years. “With 24 schools in this year’s program, we expect to see nearly 33,000 more bags of trash diverted from the new schools alone,” said Lisa Coppedge, Grades of Green’s Director of Programs. “But what’s more important is that more than 17,000 students will learn how to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost--new habits that will protect the environment in the years to come.”

The competition got underway October 2, when representatives from each school attended a training session and toured the Sanitation Districts’ Puente Hills Landfill and Materials Recovery Facility. Once the competing schools implement their Trash-Free Lunch programs, Grades of Green selects three finalists through an application process. A panel of environmental experts and other judges will evaluate the implementation and success of the three finalists’ programs. The winning school will receive a Grand Prize of a $1,000 education grant. The second- and third-place schools will receive $750 and $500, respectively. Last year’s Grand Prize was awarded to Lunada Bay Elementary School in Palos Verdes Estates, which succeeded in reducing its lunchtime trash by 87.5%. Though the deadline has passed to compete in this year’s Trash-Free Lunch Challenge, any school may still initiate a Trash-Free Lunch program. Complete instructions are available at no cost to schools at