September 2021
September 2021
Welcome to San Diego Unified's
Recycling & Zero Waste Newsletter
**September 2021 Edition**
Welcome to the September 2021 Back-to-School edition of the Recycling & Zero Waste newsletter for San Diego Unified teachers, staff, students, parents, and volunteers!  Wow, it’s sure good to be back in full swing!

This newsletter is designed to provide information and updates to the SDUSD community regarding waste diversion, recycling, composting, funding opportunities, environmental education resources, and other relevant information.

Check out the resources and information in this newsletter to give you ideas and inspiration!
  • SDUSD Recycling Challenge
  • FREE Recycling & Composting Opportunities & Services
  • Recyling @ School - How to recycle right
  • FOCUS on Food Waste & Food Packaging
  • National Green Schools Society – Start a Club @ Your School
  • Grants/Contests/Other Opportunities
  • Environmental Education Resources
  • Other Resources
Visit our Website
Sandburg Recyclers

Recycle & Win!

We missed out last year, but we’re up to the challenge this year! The District will re-start the tradition of holding its annual Recycling Challenge to encourage schools to divert as much as possible from landfill disposal.  This can be done through expanded recycling efforts and reducing the amount of waste generated in the first place! 
All schools that receive waste and recycling services through the District contract with Republic Services are automatically registered in the Challenge.  An emphasis will be placed on lower trash volume and costs, and increases in recycling diversion.  Our goal is to increase recycling participation to keep material out of the landfill, as well as to “right-size” both trash and recycling service levels to reduce costs and help our environment.
New! This year’s Challenge is points based. Schools that submit an on-line Recycling Challenge Award Nomination Form that demonstrates their school’s efforts to educate and promote recycling, waste diversion, and/or sustainability on campus will receive additional points.  Form is due by March 1, 2022.
The Challenge runs from September 2021 - March 1, 2022
In Spring 2022, winning schools will receive monetary awards as follows:
  • Elementary/K-8 Schools -  Winner: $750 / Runner-up: $500
  • Middle Schools - Winner: $1,000 / Runner-up:  $750
  • High Schools - Winner:  $1,250 Runner-up:  $1,000

  • Most Improved (over prior year): $250

(Photos:  Sandburg Elementary Recyclers, Recycling Challenge winners in 2019-20)


Free Recycling & Composting Assistance & Resources Available


The District’s trash and recycling collection contract with Republic Services provides a variety of opportunities for recycling education and outreach at our schools.  Check out these FREE opportunities!
  • School assemblies on how and what to recycle at school
  • Recycling Ambassadors to work more closely with school staff and students on proper trash disposal and recycling (help with Green Teams, lunchtime recycling programs, etc.)
  • School Recycling Opportunity Assessments to help schools identify additional diversion strategies and become more sustainable
  • Recycling bins and equipment (limited)
  • Staffed booth at school sustainability fairs or events

For more information on recycling and waste reduction opportunities for your school, please contact Janet Whited, Recycling Specialist at


In partnership with the City of San Diego Environmental Services Department, I Love A Clean San Diego will be offering FREE in-depth elementary, middle, and high school educational presentation programs centered around the topics of:

  • Zero waste
  • Recycling
  • Organic waste recycling
  • Food waste reduction
  • Environmentalism 
Interested teachers/schools can reach out to the following contact:  Emily Nelson, I Love A Clean San Diego Education Manager at or 619-704-2779


In partnership with the City of San Diego Environmental Services DepartmentSolana Center for Environmental Innovation offers composting presentations to elementary, middle, and high school students. Solana Center's curriculum offers fun activities to introduce and explore the ecology and biology of composting and our food system. Students will also receive key takeaways on how they can Love Food Not Waste through composting. Virtual or in-person presentations are available. Please contact Solana Center for more details.
Interested teachers/schools can reach out to the following contact:  Allie Hoff, Environmental Educator at or 760-436-7986 x711

...and @ Home!

A HUGE environmental impact of the COVID pandemic is the increase in single use items such as gloves and masks (personal protective equipment or PPE), wipes, plastic silverware, and single-serving condiments.  Unfortunately, most of these items cannot be recycled.  Please make sure these items are tossed in the trash at school and at home!
How to Recycle Right
  • Recycle clean items: Make sure bottles, cans, paper, cardboard, and plastic containers are relatively clean (i.e. no food, no liquids, no yuck!).   Empty and rinse appropriate items if possible. 
  • Recycle plastics by shape: bottles, jars, jugs, tubs, and trays. These are “rigid” plastics.
Check out what can be recycled at school and at home!


Reduce Food Waste & Recycle Food Packaging
How can YOUR school Love Food Not Waste? 
Back-to-School meal service will once again include bagged lunches and take-home meals. Encouraging students to take home their bagged meals and helping to set up Food Donation boxes for students to drop off unwanted bagged meals, can help keep good food out of the trash.  For more opportunities to Love Food Not Waste at school, check out our FALL 2021 flyer, Reducing Food Waste @ School, for program objectives and other simple ways to help.
Food Packaging: Don’t forget that milk and juice cartons and plastic containers from school meals can be recycled at school and at home!  Click HERE for more info. 
Teaching about Food Waste @ SCHOOL:  The World Wildlife Fund has some fabulous K-12 lessons, activities, and resources to teach the planetary impact of what we eat and what we throw away.  Engage your students on how to be a Food Waste Warrior.  Get the FREE Toolkit and resources HERE.
Register your class (4th - 8th grades) for WWF's livestream on September 30th at 10:00 a.m. on How Saving Food Saves the Planet.  
Teaching about Food Waste @ HOME: FoodPrint's The ABCs of Reducing Food Waste shares tips, recipes, and resources for reducing food waste at home in this interactive visual guide.  In addition, local food waste reduction resources, such as San Diego County’s, Food: Too Good To Waste and the San Diego Food System Alliance’s Save the Food, San Diego! have a variety of resources and tips to make reducing food waste at home easy and cost effective.

September is Hunger Action Month:

In San Diego County, 1 in 3 people don't know where their next meal is coming from. Let's work together to make sure food goes to those most in need, not the trash.
For more information on Hunger Action Month click HERE, or to volunteer at a local hunger relief agency, click HERE.


Start a Club @ Your School!

Project Green Schools provides a structured program and process for high-achieving, environmentally focused students to create extraordinary impact in schools, organizations, and communities while getting the recognition they deserve on a state and national level. The National Green Schools Society program develops bright, civic-minded, energy and environmentally literate citizens. By incorporating this club in your school, students in grades K through 12 will advance their passion for preserving the environment through service projects, leadership, and activism. 
Green Student Leaders are recognized annually for their accomplishments in the form of National Green Schools Society Certificates, Pins [Bronze, Silver, Gold], and Honor stoles based on their accomplishments with this nationally-recognized program.
Click HERE for more information and to sign up!

CHS Foundation Classroom Grant: CHS Foundation provides $500 grants each year to PreK-12 teachers who have classroom projects that use agricultural concepts to teach reading, writing, math, science, social studies, and more. Deadline: Sept.15
Coastal Clean-up Day is Sept. 18: Statewide cleanups are planned from 9am – Noon on Sept. 18th.  Locally, I Love A Clean San Diego is coordinating events all over the County.  Check HERE to join in to protect our watersheds and coastline!  Other organizations also support on-going beach cleanups: Surfrider Foundation and San Diego Coastkeeper 
Earth X Young Filmmakers Contest: Students in grades 3 through age 25 can submit short videos in a variety of formats and topics.  Entries should identify a current problem and how you propose we solve this problem as a community with the goal of sustainability. There are cash prizes and scholarships for the winners!  Deadline:  Jan. 5, 2022
Earth X Eco-Art Competition: Artists ages 5-22 are encouraged to create a piece of art, either 2-D or 3-D, that illustrates the message of the theme:  Plant the Seed. Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners! Deadline:  Jan. 24, 2022
PepsiCo Recycle Rally: If you want to collect more cans and bottles to earn money for your school then check out PepsiCo’s Recycle Rally for K-12 schools!  There are lots of resources for hosting a collection drive and fun ideas on how to inspire, boost awareness, educate, and more!.  On-going: For more information, click here.
Check out What's Available

California EEI -The California Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) is a part of a statewide effort to foster environmental literacy among California K-12 students. They provide educators with a free standards-based curriculum that teaches history and science through an environmental Lens.
California Environmental Literacy InitiativeThe California Environmental Literacy Initiative (CAELI), led by Ten Strands, works statewide with guidance from a leadership council to create systems change in support of environmental literacy with a focus on access, equity, and cultural relevance for all students.
Green Schools National Network - Check out the ideas and articles for tips, strategies, and resources for incorporating sustainability topics in K-12 curriculum. 

Composting at San Diego Unified Schools - Best Practices
Check out Composting Best Practices for schools in San Diego Unified here. This helpful guide includes great information and resources about bringing composting programs to your school.
Nutrition Education Resources - San Diego Unified
Check out Food & Nutrition Services webpage here for videos, curricula, books, and links to help bring nutrition education to your classroom!
To sign up to receive the San Diego Unified Food & Nutrition Newsletter, click here.
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