L.A. River School Conserving More, Tossing Out Less

Along with rates of graduation and the number of students taking the Advanced Placement exam, Los Angeles River High School also measures success with an unusual statistic: how much garbage gets tossed out.

“We have eight trash bins for 2,000 kids,” said Jose Ramirez, the plant manager. “That’s down from 13 bins last year.” Kristine Puich, school principal, noted the reduction means hauling away less trash from the school.
This, in turn, saves L.A. Unified thousands of dollars.Using fewer trash cans means the school recycles more. Animals on campus eat lunchtime scraps. Ducks, for instance, drink the leftover milk.

The school, which opened in 2011, stands out in the District’s ambitious effort to conserve water and other resources. The school established a “Buy California” rule regarding vegetation, with only native trees and plants adorning the campus.

Having acclimated over centuries to the area’s Mediterranean climate, the Toyon, Juncus, White Alder, and California Fucia trees spread across the campus need little water.

This conservation effort has been enhanced by a drip system that students installed. “They (students) have learned how to work with drip,” said the principal. The estimated savings is huge.The drip system uses one gallon of water per hour, as opposed to one gallon per every 30 seconds with a typical sprinkler system.
The school is also home to a new greenhouse, which will open in time for the next school year.
With the innovative means of using water and other recycling efforts, Kristine said her schools seek to become “as close to zero waste as possible.”
Here’s betting they achieve that goal.
-Thomas Waldman

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