Fifteen schools are winners of this year’s Zero Waste Schools Awards, the City of New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) announced. Recipients of the awards, which recognize public schools that have created outstanding programs in recycling, sustainability, gardening or cleanup, will receive up to $1,500 in cash prizes for their schools and were honored by DSNY Acting Commissioner Steven Costas during a June 13 awards ceremony.
This year’s winning programs range from student-led cafeteria recycling monitoring to upcycled art projects.
“Young people and public schools are two of our best partners in creating a sustainable New York,” said Costas in a statement. “Students are the future of our city, and they have some of the most creative recycling and sustainability ideas. We are proud to recognize their creativity, enthusiasm and commitment to reaching our city’s zero waste goals.”
In partnership with the city’s Department of Education, DSNY has created the NYC School Guide to Zero Waste that help teachers and students set up recycling areas, collect recyclables and coordinate with their peers on environmental projects. The annual Zero Waste Schools Awards encourage public school students to create new, innovative ways to recycle, reduce waste and promote sustainability in their schools.
“Our students are the future of our city and the future of our planet, and it’s critical we give them the knowledge and resources to care for the environment,” said Chancellor Richard A. Carranza in a statement. “Congratulations to all of our students for their creativity and commitment to the city’s zero waste goals and thank you to DSNY for educating our students on how they can reduce waste and take care of our planet.”
The competition includes five categories: The DSNY Commissioner’s Cup, which recognizes outstanding sustainability efforts; GrowNYC Recycling Champions Program’s Super Recyclers, which honors model school recycling programs; Materials For the Arts (MFTA) Reuse Challenge, which recognizes innovative waste reduction practices; Zero Waste Schools Challenge, which awards participation for the first 100 Zero Waste Schools; and Citizen’s Committee for NYC’s (CCNYC) Team Up to Clean Up, which recognizes the best cleanup and beautification projects.
In each of the Zero Waste Schools contests, schools competed within their elementary, intermediate or high school grade divisions for citywide honors by conceiving and completing hands-on applied learning projects. Citywide winners are awarded $1,500 and runners-up garner $750.
One of this year’s Reuse Challenge winners was P.S. 90 in Coney Island, where students created garden planters out of reclaimed materials, enrolled in the refashionNYC program and created ocean awareness posters using single-use plastics.
In addition to the Zero Waste School Awards winners, DSNY also honored the 2018-19 Green Team Grantees during the awards ceremony. The Green Team Mini Grant program is a partnership with the Citizens Committee for New York City that provides up to $1,000 to school green teams to support projects on sustainability, recycling, gardening and other eco-friendly initiatives. Open in both fall and spring of the school year, the 2018-19 program awarded grants to 103 schools across the five boroughs.
The complete list of the 2019 Zero Waste Schools Awards winners can be seen here.