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Creating Zero Waste Solutions in Our Community and Keeping Schools Green

Zero Waste East Side aims to divert the maximum amount of usable materials from landfills through reusing, recycling, and rethinking.

We offer several services to the East San Jose community. Keeping schools clean and green benefits both the community and the environment. Our Zero Waste team coordinates with the kitchen staff to reduce food waste, which is a lot of what the school waste is composed of. Food waste is collected and transported to Mission Trail Systems to upcycle into animal feed. In the future, we aim to collect from the kitchen and the entire campus. Diverting waste from landfills is essential in reducing waste and protecting the environment.

One of the most important ways to ensure as much material is recycled or composted as possible is to improve the sorting habits of students and staff. This is accomplished through education and outreach conducted by our team members. We also conduct waste audits to determine how much waste is produced and what it contains. The materials are sorted into different categories, and data is collected to create a specific zero-waste plan. In October 2022, we conducted a waste audit at James Lick High School. Education and outreach will be conducted afterward, and future waste audits will compare results.

In addition to these services, Zero Waste East Side provides free bulky item pickup services upon request from a school. In addition to bulky items, we collect hazardous waste and hard-to-recycle items. Non-recyclable items, such as books, furniture, and other usable goods, are donated to nonprofit organizations such as Goodwill, repurposed, or put into a free-used goods marketplace.

Zero Waste East Side is a unique and impactful partnership between East Side Union High School District and San Jose Conservation Corps that helps the school district strive towards zero waste. Besides the environmental benefit, this partnership supports the school in meeting new regulatory requirements and creates a zero-waste model that can be replicated nationally and globally.

Our program sets up young adults for success by giving them a chance to develop themselves personally, professionally, and academically and become the next environmental stewards to help create transformational change for our planet. Through job training, corpsmembers are able to be involved in this mission on an advanced level. Corpsmembers assist with outreach, education, and collecting material at schools. This experience gives them the skills needed to continue spreading zero-waste practices in our community.

Interested in making your school a zero-waste campus? Visit:

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