Cleveland Browns waste recycling totes painted by Hawken Schools art students

From 35 tons of recycled Cleveland Browns stadium food waste to 8th grade art; Auction sought

By Gregory Jackson

Hawken Browns totes

(Photo:  Eight waste totes once used at Cleveland Browns Stadium to recycle tons of food waste.  There are four 64-gallon and four 32-gallon waste receptacles.  Hawken Schools 8th graders painted these totes in Wooly bear, sunshine, lime green and desert landscape.  They plan to paint the last eight totes in creative themes).

A couple years ago the Cleveland Browns Hospitality Group began a food waste recycling initiative with Grind2Energy and quasar energy group to recycle 35 tons of food waste at Cleveland Browns home games.  Grind2Energy, an InSinkErator for commercial scale, slurries the foods waste into a 3,000 gallon tank for quasar energy to pickup and locally haul to an anaerobic digester, like the one in Collinwood near Euclid, Ohio.

In order for the Browns to collect food waste they needed 16 totes with wheels and lids (eight 32-gallon and eight 64-gallon totes stationed around the stadium).  We contacted Peter Thomas, Hawken Middle School Science teacher, and winner of the Outstanding Educator Award by the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District.

“Yes, we’d love to do this.  We have several service days available,” said Peter Thomas.  “We just finished painting some rain barrels for the garden, and they look good!”

Rain barrels are a larger part of urban farmer, Salonica Payne’s goal of a sustainable urban farm and homestead, where she is planning on renting out her house in Cleveland’s Historic Broadway District five months of the year, possibly for international friends ministries, or other individuals who are passionate about farming and needing a temporary place to reside.

Steve Hopkins, Hawken Middle School Director, recognizes Thomas’ dedication to teaching student scientific conservation applications and commented about the Outstanding Educator Award.

Peter is one of those teachers who take the initiative for his students to apply what they learn in the classroom into real world applications.

“An outstanding educator each year in recognition of someone who uses a variety of methods to help students understand the importance of environmental protection through learning and action (that) reinforces the work of Peter does with students that so clearly support the concepts embedded in Hawken’s 3 Ps,” purpose, promise, and principles according to grade.

6th Grade:  Teaches students the relationship between their words and how their actions reveal character, teaching students about purpose (first p).

7th Grade:  How can I learn the perspective of others?  Applications in showing students about promise (second p).

8th Grade:  How can students make a difference in their global community?  Making a difference helps with principles (third p).

Mr. Thomas dedicates his 8th grade classroom service days building Willow Community Garden into one of Cleveland’s showcased gardens, after his students built four new raised beds, mulch donated by Hawken Schools, painted rain barrels, and helping us compost in honor of a former Hawken Schools bus driver who once had a plot here.

To answer these questions with our experience with Hawken Middle school students at Willow Community Garden, they asked questions and helped us move topsoil and clear a new compost area to help Merwin’s Wharf and soon other restaurants to have zero food waste.  Their questions were driven by curiosity on what the proper way of composting is, while we showed them during their visit, welcoming a different perspective.

Groundz is honored to be a part of Hawken School celebration of their 100th anniversary and Cleveland Browns totes art project is a great upcycling art project.

We have begun asking different organizations and businesses the opportunity to auction student artwork.

Some of the organizations that may be interested in an auction include Velosano, Cleveland Clinic bike charity for cancer research and UNICEF, but nothing confirmed yet.  Groundz is riding in the 50-mile bike ride challenge, you could support us or join Team Groundz Velosano.  We are looking forward to riding with George Hincapie, who has cycled in 16 Tour de France.

We would also ask those interested to invite the art students as special guests as a way to bring the Hawken 3P’s to life by attending and as a way of saying thank you.  We will share 50 percent in the auction fundraiser with you at a benefits special event gala, hosted by you.  Edible Cleveland will also help promote your event, mentioning the totes for auction.  We are willing to travel from Cleveland, but keep in mind to help us cover our travel expenses your event planner will need to budget additional funds, amount depends on how far and how many days would be required.

Hawken Browns totes in truck


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