Global Challenge, Global Solutions: Zero-Waste School Cafeterias

Cafet­eria Cul­ture helps cre­ate zero-waste school cafet­er­ias and cli­mate-smart com­munit­ies through edu­ca­tion, arts, and me­dia.

“Global Challenge, Global Solutions” is a series hosted on Climasphere highlighting inspiring, innovative, and creative global solutions to the challenge of climate change in the lead up to the next major climate conference, COP22. These solutions have been provided by members of the Earth To Marrakech coalition, a group of more than 50 media organizations, civil society groups, and businesses from around the world who are raising their voices in a collective call to move from words to action on climate change. Let’s send a message, from Earth To Marrakech: The solutions to climate change are out there, and they’re inspiring. 

Zero-Waste School Cafeterias


Cafet­eria Cul­ture fuses stu­dent lead­er­ship with zero-waste ac­tion by of­fer­ing pro­grams to more than 6,000 stu­dents in New York City schools, loc­ated primar­ily in low-in­come com­munit­ies. The programs teach students about environmental justice, marine litter, and climate change. By ap­point­ing daily stu­dent “Cafet­eria Rangers,” who over­see post-lunch re­cyc­ling and sort­ing of food scraps and pack­aging, stu­dents prac­tice com­mu­nic­a­tion and lead­er­ship, while learn­ing re­cyc­ling and sort­ing skills.

The stu­dents also design arts- and me­dia-based ad­vocacy cam­paigns, such as gi­ant pup­pets and video shorts, to edu­cate and en­gage the school com­munity on zero waste and other garbage-re­lated is­sues. Cafet­eria Cul­ture re­cently launched a free mul­ti­me­dia series, provid­ing 1.1 million students and teachers with re­sources to suc­cess­fully im­ple­ment the pro­gram on their own.

Edu­ca­tion is key to shap­ing val­ues and be­ha­vior, which in turn help real­ize sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.1 By ac­quir­ing know­ledge and skills about cli­mate change and the harm­ful ef­fects of waste pro­duc­tion, Cafet­eria Cul­ture en­ables school kids to make a pos­it­ive en­vir­on­mental im­pact now and in the fu­ture.


After just a few days of op­er­a­tion in a given school, Cafet­eria Cul­ture’s Cafet­eria Ranger pro­gram in­creases cafet­eria waste di­ver­sion rates by up to 80%.

The pro­gram helps to in­fuse a cul­ture of sus­tain­ab­il­ity and zero waste throughout the school, which stu­dents can take home and share with their fam­il­ies.

Prop­erly sort­ing waste re­duces the cost of waste man­age­ment.

read the full story
Loading Loading More Articles ...