OCDE’s Inside the Outdoors extends Earth Day into May with #ProjectZeroWasteLunch challenge

While every day is Earth Day for OCDE’s Inside the Outdoors program, we set aside one day a year — April 22 — as a reminder to take better care of our planet. But this year, OCDE’s environmental education program is partnering up with OC Waste & Recycling to launch a special zero waste challenge during the month of May.

Dubbed #ProjectZeroWasteLunch, the challenge is calling on elementary, middle and high schoolers to showcase how they are reducing waste during lunch time by using one or all of the ‘5 R’s — Refuse, Reuse, Rot, Repurpose, Recycle.

students recycling

Students from Golden View Elementary School in Ocean View School District participated in a lunchtime recycling program. (photo taken in March 2019.)

How to participate

During the week of May 10-14, Inside the Outdoors staff will post short, educational videos with easy tips to reduce waste on the ITO Instagram page and YouTube channel. Students can watch these videos for inspiration and then submit their own photos, art or videos depicting how they are reducing their own lunch waste.

Submissions will be accepted via the following ways:

The challenge is open to all K-12 Orange County students and participation can take place at home or on campus. Five participants will be randomly selected on May 19 to receive a fun — and sustainable — prize.

“Whether at home, hybrid or in-person, students can show us how they are reducing waste at lunch by using one or even all of the 5 R’s with some inspiration from us,” said Inside the Outdoors Outreach Manager Yarib Dheming. “Change comes through practice, so we thought we’d have some fun with a challenge that lasts beyond Earth Day.”

Project Zero Waste is an award-winning partnership between OC Waste & Recycling and Inside the Outdoors that began in 2009 to engage students in service-learning about solid waste. More recently, the focus has shifted to exploring waste diversion strategies to reduce items, from food waste to mattresses, ending up in our local landfills.


OCDE’s Inside the Outdoors has been a leader in hands-on science and social science programs since 1974. The mission of the program is to empower students, teachers, parents and the community to explore natural areas and expand their knowledge, understanding and stewardship of the environment.

To learn more about Inside the Outdoors, visit the ITO website.