What is a “Trash on Lawn Day”?

A Trash on the Lawn Day (TOLD) is a fun one-day waste-assessment exercise that can give schools, businesses, and really any large group that generates “waste” valuable insight into better ways to reduce and manage all that material.

How it works

  • The people spearheading the TOLD–Students and teachers, “Green Team” members or community leaders–are trained to execute the Trash on the Lawn day by CSWD’s Outreach Coordinators.
  • Schools and businesses generally hold aside all of the trash, recycling and (if appropriate) compostable materials collected from the classrooms, offices, lunchrooms and/or the school cafeteria for one to three days. Bathrooms are excluded from collections.This is done without letting the general population know, so their behavior won’t be affected.
  • On a pre-arranged day immediately following the last day of collection, all of the material is spread onto a tarp or other protected surface (like a loading dock). With the help of CSWD–or on their own, once trained–students, teachers and/or volunteer staff members sort the collected materials into true trash, recyclable and compostable categories and record the mass and volume of all of the collected materials.

What happens after the TOLD

After all the data is recorded, and the materials are sent off to be processed in the appropriate way, the data should be analyzed and organized into easy-to-understand results. Easy-to-understand is a crucial part of getting everyone on board! Make it relevant to people by breaking results down into “per person” measures, or giving anecdotal examples that demonstrate the impact of a single person on the whole waste stream.

The (easy-to-understand) results should be shared with the organization. The more animated your delivery of facts and procedures, the better! This stage helps entire organizations to rethink waste and waste reduction.

All members of the organization – employees, executives, teachers, students – should be encouraged to create specific recommendations and action plans after the Trash on the Lawn Day. For example, recommendations might include establishing or improving an existing program, starting to collect and divert food waste to a composting system, or setting up a system for paper reuse.

Other ideas to consider:

  • Could the organization benefit economically from recycling or composting?
  • Could a club or committee sell “homemade” compost to the community in the springtime as a business venture?
  • Could your organization get some publicity from the event by writing a letter to the editor of the local newspaper?
  • Are enough people in your organization committed to creating a sustainable waste reduction system to instill lasting change?

TOLD in schools

For help setting up a TOLD at your school, contact CSWD’s School Outreach Coordinator using our Contact Form (select “School Programs/Assistance”).

In schools, teachers can capitalize in infinite ways on one day’s environmental waste assessment:

  • Students empower others to make a difference in their community. Over the year, participating students critique their training and project, and establish a training for another school’s group in the next year to pass on the tradition of Trash on the Lawn Day.
  • Administrators can support service learning on a school-wide level with one project’s impact.
  • Maintenance staff can set up expectations with students in order to support the project and the students’ responsibility to help keep the trash/recycling/composting infrastructure in good shape, and to clean up after the TOLD itself.

TOLD in businesses

A comprehensive TOLD Guide for Businesses is coming soon!

Until then, interested businesses can contact CSWD’s Business Outreach Coordinator using our Contact Form (select “Business and Office Recycling Bins/Assistance”) with questions or to set up a TOLD for your organization.

Don’t be afraid! Join local businesses Burton Snowboards, Seventh Generation, the Best Western Plus Windjammer Inn and Conference Center, and even Burlington City Hall in using this hands-on, nitty gritty exercise. You’ll literally uncover opportunities you never new existed for waste reduction, cost savings, and employee engagement. Plus, your TOLD efforts are tailor-made for conveying your commitment to sustainability to your customers.

Guide to hosting a TOLD

We have created a comprehensive guide to hosting a Trash on Lawn Day, complete with step-by-step instructions, materials checklist, guide to staff & employee engagement, and a worksheet for entering the data collected.

Guide to Trash on Lawn Day

Questions or comments?

Contact the CSWD School Outreach Coordinator, Rhonda Mace.

Send an email