Starting in mid-October, students & faculty at John Eager Howard Elementary School have been participating in Wasteless Wednesdays, a JEH Green Team initiative to reduce solid waste and increase sustainability. Instead of throwing their fruit and vegetable scraps into the trash and contributing to larger landfills, students are learning to compost in the lunch room.
Building on September’s PARK(ing) Day “Compost Kitchen” demonstration, RHIC staff join the students for lunch on Wednesdays to distribute compost buckets and instructions. Following the lunch period, which lasts from 10:30am-1:30pm and serves all 300 JEH students, the bucket contents are delivered to Whitelock Community Farm’s community compost collection.
Sometimes it’s a challenge to convince students that recycled food can also be productive:
But we have no problem encouraging the students to check out how gross their left overs can look:
For those who don’t regularly eat the JEH lunchroom, here is a short explanation of the composting process:
Composting is essentially monitoring and supplementing the natural decay of organic materials (fruit and vegetable scraps). Depending on where you live and how you compost, you can include different things, even animal scraps, because the heat produced by the decay will breakdown any organic matter. It’s important to mix carbon rich materials, like dry leaves or newspaper, with the nitrogen rich food–that’s how you make sure it decays without growing a fungus or smelling. In the end, the food that would have ended up in a landfill instead creates nutrient rich soil that can be used in a garden next year!
Our hope is that all our JEH environmental education programming, from composting in the lunchroom to field trips visiting local farms, will help inspire students to engage with their local and global environment. For an example of what students can accomplish, check out how Daniel Burd, a 16-year-old Canadian high school student, figured out a way to compost plastic bags!