On December 5, 2019 Country Day School hosted an international delegation of experts in Zero Waste, to support the school and youth from around to region to embrace and achieve Zero Waste, and to launch a new organization, Zero Waste Youth Costa Rica.
Country Day held an assembly for its high school and middle school students, and invited students from neighboring schools as well, so more than 300 students were present to learn about Zero Waste student movements around the world. Following the assembly, the Zero Waste delegation led County Day School Green Team members in conducting a school-wide Zero Waste audit. The preliminary results indicated that Country Day is achieving at least a 56 percent diversion rate, meaning that 56 percent of all the discarded materials generated by the campus—by students, administration, landscaping and cafeteria operations—are already being diverted from landfills, thanks to existing recycling and composting programs.
Inspired by learning about this great progress to date, Green Team members established a future goal to achieve 90 percent diversion. Students eagerly identified potential new initiatives in Zero Waste, such as on-site composting of landscape debris, calculating the benefits of “avoided disposal” achieved by last year’s transition to all reusable cafeteria trays in lieu of disposables, pairing trash cans with recycling cans, conducting school-wide training of students, faculty and staff, and applying data and math principles to determine the greenhouse gas emissions benefits of reducing waste and properly managing discards.
To advance Zero Waste youth leadership in Costa Rica more broadly, participating schools and universities from around the region have now launched Zero Waste Youth Costa Rica. The group discussed options for organizing and considered future projects, including pursuing Zero Waste at their schools and hosting workshops, convergences and Earth Day events. The next meeting will be held at Texas Tech in February. For more information and to get involved, please contact Elena Mateo at email@example.com
Special thanks are due to Elena Mateo (educator, Country Day parent, and convener of Zero Waste Costa Rica) and representatives from Zero Waste International Alliance, Zero Waste USA, Zero Waste San Diego and the TRUE Zero Waste Business Certification Program.