I would like to thank the Triad Women’s Blogger Network and McDonald’s of the Triad for inviting me to attend this weekend’s Earth Day Event. I enjoyed learning more about the Good Neighbor, Good Grounds coffee recycling program, and how it’s being implemented in my area.

McDonald’s was a gracious host and offered breakfast, as well as prepared jars of used coffee grounds for attendees to take home. I took home two.

As you can expect, I am delighted and appreciative. This post highlights my experience. My opinions are shared without bias.

Do you have any specific memories about Earth Day as you were growing up?

I remember in elementary school being given a tree. I was supposed to plant this tree to give back to the earth as a part of my Earth Day celebration and a focus on renewal of its resources.

I was…what, maybe 10? My mother and I were living in a low-income apartment community, and I had no idea how to successfully fulfill my mission. I can’t really remember what happened or where that little tree ended up, but I do remember the weight of failure and promising myself to do better when I was a grown up.

And, here I am.

Grown. With my own property. And a neighbor who has kindly offered to help me raise my first-ever, proper garden.

So when I was invited to attend this year’s Earth Day event to learn more about the Good Neighbor, Good Grounds coffee recycling program, I didn’t think twice.

McDonald’s of the Triad Earth Day Event

In 2015, McDonald’s started the program as a way to reduce the amount of organic waste being send to landfills. Instead of going in the trash, used coffee grounds would be donated to local area gardens.

There are five restaurants in the Triad participating by donating over 25 pounds of used grounds to school and community gardens each week – and the program is growing as more locations are working to secure community partners.

On Saturday morning, I got to hear from a local McDonald’s owner/operator about why the program was so important to her as a business owner, and how it’s mutually beneficial to her restaurant as it works to reach its recycling goals and how it provides strong community connections, as local area garden leaders are using the grounds to enrich the soil.

Greensboro Assistant City Manager, David Parrish talked about how the city is working – and has been working – towards its sustainability goals, including energy efficient renovations, implementing solar panels on municipal buildings, and having hybrid buses for public transportation. He talked about the importance of forward thinking in regards to waste and recycling, and sustainable growth patters. Basically, implementing changes now that will make a positive impact for generations to come.

There were also representatives from local area schools who are currently using the coffee grounds donated by McDonald’s, and information on how the process of cultivating a garden is being used as a part of the elementary school curriculum.

VIDEO: See my Facebook Live from the Event.

I love how the Good Neighbor, Good Grounds program is providing a positive impact on so many levels, and on Saturday morning, I got to witness just a few of them…

At a high level…

An average McDonald’s location sells about 66 pounds of coffee each week. When water is added in, this creates approximately 5,594 pounds of waste. This program is helping McD’s locations work towards their goal of in-restaurant recycling to 50% by 2020.

At a local level…

With gardening programs in elementary schools, kids are learning where their food comes from and how much work it takes to nurture the soil to grow good food. Incorporating used coffee grounds from McDonald’s of the Triad helps enrich the soil. They are becoming aware of the effort and of their part in the food cycle, and how their choices can affect the process – for good or bad.

The engagement creates citizens who grow up with knowledge – and some experience – on how to make better choices for the environment, and so by the time they become adults, there’s a better chance that they’ll be ready to plug into the sustainability efforts being made on the city level, by people like David Parrish.

In the moment…

And by even hosting this event, McDonald’s of the Triad gave attendees the opportunity to focus time and attention on the possibilities available for synergy. Like-minded people had the opportunity to connect and share their passion for sustainability education. I overheard what I hope will become more moments of bringing important information to light as neighbors work together to create and support even more good.

So, so much good.

I will say, I’m a little envious of the kids who are learning about gardening as a part of their grade school experience. This kind of plan helps empower kids, and gives them a chance to understand and learn; it imparts responsibility with assistance.

In my opinion, definitely a more sustainable model than what I experienced at that age – more effective too.

How do you encourage your kids to celebrate Earth Day or be aware of their place in sustainability efforts?

Have you thought about using coffee grounds in your garden? If not, here are seven reasons why you should.