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August 26, 2011 > Sixth graders see green

Sixth graders see green

Submitted By Karen Stern, photos submitted by Karen Stern

The Eldridge Elementary School sixth grade class in Hayward experienced firsthand how everyday activities can be green. From the Waste Management truck in their neighborhood powered by garbage to the 'Big Green Bus' that traveled cross county powered by used vegetable oil, the students learned how they can make green choices.

Through demonstrations and hands-on activities, 90 sixth graders discovered green technology with the guidance of 13 Dartmouth College students.

Activities included:
Pedaling a bike to generate energy to power a compact florescent light bulb and a incandescent light bulb to discover which requires more energy - and pedaling

Exploring how a bus engine is powered by restaurant waste vegetable oil

Touring the bus' interior to learn about its sustainable features, including solar panels that generate enough energy for freezer, air conditioning, laptops, cell phones and more.

"Our goal is to rekindle widespread enthusiasm for the environmental movement," said Matt Knight, general manager of the Big Green Bus and electrical engineering major. "This year we are displaying the latest technology in a newly-converted coach bus. We hope that at each stop we will inspire individuals to make smart choices that will help them lead greener lives."

The sixth graders also heard from Waste Management staff about closing the loop on food waste and yard trimmings. When separated at the curb, Waste Management turns organic material into compost to nurture local soil. Organic waste already in place at the Altamont Landfill is creating clean-burning natural gas to fuel Waste Management's 13 residential garbage and green waste collection trucks in Hayward as well as other communities in Alameda County and beyond.

"We are thrilled the Big Green Bus team could meet with the Eldridge students, the next generation of environmental leaders in our community," said Karen Stern, Communications Manager for Waste Management of Alameda County. "Seeing green energy and technology in action will hopefully spark their interest in recycling and composting initiatives in their school, home and the community."

Waste Management is a proud sponsor of the Big Green Bus. In 2007, the company committed itself to reducing its fleet emissions by more than 15 percent over the next ten years. The Big Green Bus helps to illustrate this initiative, as well as Waste Management's other alternative fuel, renewable energy and recycling programs.

The Big Green Bus hit the road June 19 and will travel more than 12,000 miles through 35 states, from New Hampshire to California and back again. For more than six summers (50,000 miles and 5,200 gallons of waste vegetable oil in place of diesel), the Big Green Bus has evolved from a rag-tag invention of Dartmouth College's engineers to a mobile museum for sustainable living. For more information, visit

Waste Management of Alameda County powers nearly 100 collection vehicles in Alameda County and another 25 in Monterey County with natural gas converted from landfill gas at the Altamont Landfill near Livermore, CA. According to the California Air Resources Board, Altamont bio-fuel is the lowest carbon fuel commercially available. A refuse truck running on Altamont bio-fuel replaces 8,000 gallons of diesel fuel and eliminates 83 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually.

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