It all started during the summer of 2018 with a visit to the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair. At the fair, students learned about solid food waste management initiatives in the County. This sparked an interest in them and they decided to do some more research and dive deep into ways on tackling the solid food waste recycling.
Team Green Tea came into existence to “spill the tea” on solid food waste management and green-up the community. The team consists of three middle school students from Roberto Clemente Middle School, Angelina Xu, Shrusti Amula and Advika Agarwal pictured in the image to the left. Their goal is to reduce the amount of food waste piling up in landfills producing methane, which exacerbates the impacts of global warming. What they learned is that this food waste is actually unnecessary waste – it has the capability to be turned into useful products. One part of the project is to create a system to collect food scraps from residential, businesses, and schools for composting.
One of their major milestones for Team Green Tea was implementing a compost program at Clarksburg Elementary School. They used the concept of recycling and expanded it to composting. With roughly one-third of our total solid waste encompasses food scraps being thrown away, composting is a way to promote a responsible and environmentally friendly way to deal with waste.
Along with saving landfill space, school composting programs have many benefits:
During this project, the total collection weight reported by the hauler for first week was 287.5 pounds of food scraps and second week was 268 pounds. Just about in two weeks we are over 550 pounds of waste from just one school across the county. Team Green Tea has also created an educational video to educate kids and generate awareness to promote a food scraps collection program.
Diverting the food waste that currently goes into landfill will not only have social, environmental but also economic benefit.
Wasted food is a social problem: In 2017, an estimated 1 in 8 Americans were food insecure, equating to 40 million Americans including more than 12 million children. Wholesome, nutritious food should feed people, not landfills.
Wasted food is an environmental problem: Food is one of the largest stream of material in Nation’s trash. Once wasted food reached landfills, it produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Wasted food is an economic issue: Currently the resulting economic loss is somewhere between 780 billion and 1 trillion dollars a year,
The sheer numbers should provide inspiration for everyone to play their part. With food waste and loss costing the global GDP nearly one trillion dollars per year, it is not only a business concern that cannot be ignored but also a social and environmental concern.
Since the inception of the program, Team Green Tea has diverted 5256.5 pounds of food waste from Clarksburg Elementary School.