Finding the Fun in Sorting Waste

Updated: Nov 15

Zero Waste Silicon Valley conducts a waste audit at James Lick High School to determine what the waste stream is comprised of. Corpsmembers and staff have fun along the way!

In October, our Zero Waste team conducted a baseline waste audit at James Lick High School in San José. The audit allowed us to see what the waste is composed of to determine the next best steps to reduce the amount of waste going into the landfill. This audit was performed before any outreach or education. We will conduct a second waste audit about a year later to compare results and track our progress. This comparison will show how effective outreach and education are in improving the waste stream and how informed recycling allows less waste to go into the landfill.

While the waste audit can be a gross or daunting experience, it can also be fun! Corpsmembers and staff were able to find fun along the way through comradery and exciting discoveries. The Yeti canteen was just one of many interesting finds that kept our Zero Waste team engaged and entertained throughout the process.


Along with the fun and humor, this waste audit was very informative. Corpsmembers such as Jeremiah Garcia, Joseph Garcia-Perata, and Vanessa Valencia revealed in interviews that this experience shows them how important it is to sort waste. For Abraham Burciaga, it was a revelation about the importance of others sorting their waste and sorting his own. He states, "this has helped him with his waste streams and separating food." Sorting waste benefits both the community and our environment.


This waste audit provides insight into how people dispose of their waste and to what degree it is incorrectly or correctly sorted. As Jeremiah says, "sooner or later we want to try and implement all these categories." The goal is to sort our waste more thoroughly in the future to reduce waste in landfills and to implement this practice in the entire school district. Luckily James Lick High School students seem to be doing a great job sorting their waste! This made the James Lick High School waste audit a positive and hopeful experience. As Jeremiah says, "we don't have a planet B. We need to make most of the planet we have now."