NRRA Welcomed to Bow Memorial School for Trash On the Lawn Day (TOLD)

It was a beautiful day in New England and the sixth graders were curious about the waste audit on their playground. Heather Herring, Member Services Representative at the Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA), was welcomed onto Bow Memorial School grounds by Principal Adam Osburn to hold NRRA’s first Trash On the Lawn Day (TOLD) since the pandemic began. Bow, NH High School Senior, Jessica Chamberlin, contacted NRRA with the idea to coordinate a TOLD to fulfill her senior project on waste and human impact. Funding was provided by New Hampshire the Beautiful and the Bow Parent Teacher Association.

Students and teachers conducted a waste audit of one day’s worth of waste from their school by sorting it into categories of trash, recyclables, food waste, and special collections (markers and highlighters). First, students weighed 16 bags of unsorted Municipal Solid Waste. Students wore nitrile gloves and masks and were assigned roles of sorting through the material on a tarp or monitoring each bin for contamination. As each bin was filled, the sorted bags were weighed again.

In the end, 50 % of the material was actual waste, and the other half of the material could have been diverted into Bow’s single-stream recycling or into food scrap composting. Bow does not currently have a food waste program, but over 34% of the waste from one day was food from the cafeteria and classrooms. Bow Memorial School can review options on how to reduce the weight of their waste through an on-site composting program, diverting the material to a commercial composter, or by finding a local farmer to accept the food waste. The TOLD report provided to Jessica and the school extrapolated the one-day audit into a full (school) year and calculated the potential revenue earned if the town captured the disposed recyclables.

Over 120 sixth-graders participated and had great enthusiasm and questions. It was good to get involved and have students recognize their own personal trash and see how Bow Memorial can improve its own recycling efforts. Staff and visiting Bow Recycling Committee members, Sherri Cheney and Danielle Ruanne, also had recycling questions.

NRRA thanks the many stakeholders in this event, including Bow Senior, Jessica Chamberlin, Principal Adam Osburn, Facilities Manager, Dave Cloutier, the 6th grade STEM teachers, and New Hampshire the Beautiful. Without them, this wouldn’t have been possible!

NRRA commends Bow Memorial School’s interest in diverting resources from their waste stream at their middle school. As a non-profit organization that provides cooperative marketing of recyclables for towns, technical assistance, and educational and networking opportunities, we were happy to offer this educational programming. If your school is interested in scheduling a TOLD or other school recycling programming, please find out more information and funding from NRRA at School Recycling Club/Pricing Grants.