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Zero Waste
Zero Waste

Reduce & Reuse - Schools

To achieve the District’s goal of zero waste, extra effort and increased emphasis will have to be placed on the first of the 3 R’s – Reduce! What can you do to limit the amount of waste in our landfills, streets, waterways, and oceans? Recycling saves energy and resources, but reducing is even better.

School and office supplies

Shop Resale - Secondhand, Thrift, & Consignment

Shopping for pre-owned goods at secondhand, thrift and consignment shops gives these items a new life and keeps durable goods out of the trash.

  • Visit here for a directory of resale stores in and around the District.
  • Visit here for tips on how to prevent waste during year-end locker clean outs.
School supplies

Buy Recycled School Supplies

Help to close the loop by buying products made from recycled content. Paper, pens, markers, folders, and more can be made from recycled paper or plastic. Look for "made from recycled content" on the packaging. 

Reusable lunch featuring reusable fork, cloth napkin, reusable water bottle, and lunch box

Pack a Zero Waste Lunch

Use reusable containers to pack lunches to eliminate or reduce packaging waste.

To get started, see these tips for packing a zero-waste lunch.

Collected milk and fruit leftovers

Donate Leftovers

It’s easy to rescue good food in your cafeteria from being wasted. Collect whole and unopened items, then partner with a local hunger organization to donate.

  • Start a Share Table! Share tables are stations for collecting and redistributing unwanted food items that are unopened and uneaten, rather than throwing them away.
  • Allow students to choose what they want to eat by implementing Offer vs. Serve in your cafeteria. Review OSSE's Offer vs. Serve Guidance
  • Take a look at the USDA's guide to preventing wasted food. 
  • Check out the DC Food Recovery Working Group's website or contact DGS for more ideas.
  • For food donation and recovery options and resources, please visit Reuse DC’s Food Recovery page.  
  • Consider including food reduction and donation requirements in school food services contracts. Visit here to read DC’s recommended requirements.
Furniture at a school

Donate Unwanted Furniture

Does your school have furniture that you no longer need but that can easily be reused? Don’t dump!

  • Donate, exchange, or sell office furniture or electronic equipment to give items a second life. Visit here for the reuse directory.
  • Need Furniture? Consider purchasing pre-owned office furniture and equipment. DC Government makes surplus items available through an online auction. Click here for DC Surplus Inventory.
Paper recycling bin and a bag of collected paper

DC Reduce First Challenge

Take part in a DC Reduce First Challenge! Each spring, all schools across the District are invited to compete against one another to reduce one of their waste streams. This school year (2017-2018), the schools will work to reduce plastic waste.

Don't have time to participate during the spring? You can do these challenges at any time on your own!