Topic Resources

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Initiated By
  • Norway Public School

Self-reported estimates indicated major reductions in packaging, and corresponding increases in the amount of materials recycled and composted.

Norway Public School Litterless Lunch

Students eating lunch at Norway Public School were exposed to an ongoing Litterless Lunch program - one that involved the participation of parents and made use of student monitors. In addition, there was an emphasis on recycling and composting throughout the school.


To complement 3Rs educational units being taught at Toronto's Norway Public School, opportunities were created for students to practice what they learned. The Litterless Lunch program was one of a number of school-wide waste reduction programs created in 1993 which involved the participation of school staff and students from kindergarten through to grade 6. The student lunch area had been identified as a major source of waste.

Delivering the Program

Litterless Lunch Program

A letter was sent to parents early in 1993, explaining the Litterless Lunch program's goals, requesting parents' participation, and provided advice on nutrition as well as ways to reduce disposable packaging (School Programs that Involve the Family).

Subsidized reusable lunch bags containing reusable food containers were offered for sale at parent-teacher nights (Overcoming Specific Barriers).

To encourage ongoing student involvement, a number of daily reminders were provided. Posters and art work in the lunch area communicated 3Rs and composting themes. Volunteer lunch room monitors (grades 4-6) reminded students to separate compostable scraps and recyclables, and to place them in collection bins (Norm Appeals and Prompts). The monitors were also responsible for taking the collected food to an outdoor composter. Teachers provided prizes such as bookmarks and stickers with environmental themes to students who brought a litterless lunch.

Other School-wide Waste Reduction Initiatives

Each classroom contained recycling bins for the collection of both white and mixed paper. Every week, an announcement was made on the school PA system for student volunteers to carry the classroom bins to a centrally located collection area. Students also read environmental tips over the PA system.

Both the caretakers and the students from a grade 6 class were responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the outdoor composter. Students also collected food scraps from the kindergarten, where snacks were served, and the staff room.

Measuring Achievements

In 1996, a questionnaire was sent home to parents of the 51 children in grades 2-3 and 4-5. Parents were asked to estimate the impact of the program on their households by choosing from ranges provided. For example, one question asked: "As a result of the school's Litterless Lunch, recycling and composting programs, we have reduced the amount of packaging that we use in our child's school lunch by: 0-20 percent, 21-40 percent, 41-60 percent, 61-80 percent, 81-100 percent. Forty-five completed questionnaires were returned (an 88 percent response rate).


On average, parents reported that the Litterless Lunch program had reduced the amount of packaging in their children's school lunches by about 60 percent. A similar reduction (about 50 percent) was reported in the use of "wraps and foils" at home, and an overall reduction of about 40 percent in the packaging of foods and products they purchased. The parents also reported an average increase of about 60 percent in the amount of material put into the Blue Box for recycling, and about 40 percent in the amount of materials composted. Bearing in mind that the small numbers, self-reported estimations and lack of a control group combine to reduce confidence in the accuracy of the results, the data point to the overall effectiveness of the approach taken.


Colleen Andrews
Lord Dufferin Public School
Toronto Board of Education
303 Berkely Street
Toronto, Ontario
M5A 2X6
(416) 393-1760
Fax: (416) 393-0132


Last updated: August 2004

This case study was originally published in 1998 in "Tools of Change: Proven Methods for Promoting Environmental Citizenship" by Jay Kassirer and Doug McKenzie-Mohr (Published by Canada's National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy)

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