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Stories From Main Street: Activist Mom Gets Westchester Schools On Board With Recycling

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- It all started one Earth Day with a piece of Styrofoam that Anna Giordano's son found in the woods.

"He said, 'Well, we're using this in the lunchroom,'" Giordano said. "And I said, 'You're using Syrofoam in the lunchroom?'"

She became a mother on a mission, checking out the cafeteria at her children's New Rochelle school.

Activist Mom Gets Westchester Schools On Board With Recycling

"Everything just went into the garbage," Giordano said.

Giordano then started We Future Cycle, which is now in eight school districts.

"I did a survey in the lunchroom, and I realized that 90 percent of what the kids were throwing out was recyclable -- if it was just sorted out," she said.

First, children empty excess liquids and sort drink containers. Then they separate trash, recyclables and organic food waste.

"We have two small wastebaskets of trash, and everything else is recyclable," said Alan Levin, director of food services at Hastings schools.

George Prine, director of facilities in Hastings, used to put out "every day almost 6 yards of garbage throughout the whole building."

"We're probably now, every other day, pulling out trash alone maybe 4 yards," he said.

The bulk of the waste previously? Food scraps.

All of that now gets sent to Connecticut for composting.

The district hopes carting costs will go down if someday they can compost locally.

At Hillside Elementary, the children are the recycling police.

"They tell us, the adults, 'No, Mr. Johnson, that doesn't go there; that goes here,'" Assistant Principal Farid Johnson said. "They're pretty good."

Johnson has three seperate bins in his office.

"It's a game to me sometimes," he said. "I sit over here and look. 'OK, where am I going to throw my stuff?' And I'll take a little jump shot and put it somewhere."

It's just the beginning, Giordano said.

"Westchester and then the world," she said.

For more information on We Future Cycle, click here.

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