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TrashMasters! Reduce & Reuse Challenge

logo: reduce & reuse challenge link to golden apple awards info

TrashMasters! Reduce & Reuse Challenge honors NYC Department of Education schools with cash prizes for implementing the most successful and innovative waste prevention practices within their borough.

See list of all 2014 Golden Apple Awards contest winners! (pdf) (click on school names to see project descriptions).

The 2014 winners received $10,000 for Citywide Winners; $5,000 for Borough Winners; $2,500 for Borough Runners-Up,  and $1,250 for Honorable Mention — plus $1,000 for Golden Shovel Award winners in each borough. Award levels change year-to-year based on available funding.

contest overview
how to enter
contest entry questions

waste less at school: activities for students
prior golden apple winners (select year)
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Contest Overview: Show us how your school reduces waste!illustration: kids' stuff exchange

With more than one million students, teachers, and administrators, NYC DOE schools produce hundreds of thousands of tons of waste each year.

There are many ways to reduce the amount of waste generated by NYC schools — such as cutting down on food waste in cafeterias, or reducing paper use in classrooms and offices.

Reduce & Reuse Challenge can help make a real impact on eliminating or reducing the quantity of materials that gets set out for collection. Schools can also encourage their local communities to reduce and reuse through collection drives and awareness campaigns.

Resources for Success

  • Refer to waste less at school to find student activities to reduce waste.
  • Review Reduce & Reuse Challenge entries submitted by prior year Golden Apple winners to see Best Practices and different ways other schools have reduced waste, involved environmental clubs, and incorporated multi-discipline applied learning components.

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How to Enter

Note: The Contest Coordinator must be a teacher or administrator employed at an NYC DOE school.

Describe and document each waste prevention, reduction, or reuse effort your school initiated.

  1. Compose answers to the contest questions below in your word processing program.
  2. Add explanatory documentation (reduce file sizes as necessary):
    ● photos, illustrations, graphics
    ● memos, letters, flyers, posters, charts, graphs, scripts, lyrics
    ● lesson plans, exemplary samples of student work
  3. Convert your completed document into a pdf (3MB max).
    ● get technical assistance with your online submission
  4. Register and upload your Reduce & Reuse Challenge contest entry by Friday, May 1, 2015.

Please feel free to contact BWPRR with any questions or problems.

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Reduce & Reuse Challenge Contest Entry Questions

cover page
waste prevention projects


Please include the following info on the cover page of your contest entry:


  • School Number
  • Official School Name
  • (School Also Known As)
  • Street Address, City, Zip
  • Phone #, Fax #
  • Principal: Name, Phone, Email
  • Contest Coordinator: Name, Title, Phone, Email
    (must be a teacher or administrator employed at the school)
  • School description: What other relevant information should the Golden Apple Awards judges know about your school community? Include size, location, population, special missions.


  • Borough 
  • Grade Division (Elementary, Intermediate, High School) 
  • Contest Entry Title (10 words or less) 
  • Contest Entry Summary (in one short paragraph)


  • Student Participation: Core Group #_____
  • Student Participation: Total #_____
  • School Population: Total #_____

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For each project you initiated, briefly describe and document the following:


  • Why this? What type of waste did you target for reduction, prevention, or reuse in this project? Explain why.
  • What did you do? How did you reduce this waste?
  • Project planning. Your objectives, and the planning and organization that drove this project.
  • Student involvement. All student efforts to plan and implement the project. Include activities conducted by classrooms, cluster, grade, school wide, team, club, or afterschool program.
  • Promotion. Efforts to promote this project, such as announcements, memos, flyers, posters, letters, web pages, skits, songs, assembly programs, media coverage, or other special events.
  • Collaboration. Any corroboration with other schools, professionals, businesses, or community organizations on this project. Did you solicit donations or help?
  • Educational components. Include learning standards met, lesson plans, and exemplary samples of student work.


  • What worked? What were the most successful aspects of this project?
  • What didn't work? What were the least successful aspects of this project?
  • Applicability to other schools. What advice would you give to other schools with similar populations who want to replicate your project?
  • Measuring success. Describe how you measured the success of your project. Explain any impact on the students or community.
  • Future plans. How would these prize funds be used to further enhance your school recycling program, waste prevention initiatives, or beautification projects?

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golden shovel award logoSCHOOL COMPOSTING PROGRAMS 

Golden Apple Award entries with composting programs* may also enter the Golden Shovel Award competition for your borough’s Master School Composter, selected by the NYC Compost Project.

To enter, check the box “We Compost” on the Reduce & Reuse Challenge Contest Entry Submission, and include answers to the following questions in your contest entry:

  • Describe your school’s indoor and/or outdoor composting efforts.
  • Describe collaborations with outside organizations.
  • Document compost education efforts; show students' work.
  • Explain if and how these composting efforts will be maintained on an ongoing basis.
  • Could your school’s composting efforts be replicated by other schools with similar populations? Please explain.

* Schools participating in the Organics Collection Program should enter TrashMasters! Super Recyclers and document educational tie-ins.

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