Members of the Wayland Green Team Tuesday did their best to prove to second graders at that one person’s trash can be a garden’s treasure.
During the second grade lunch period, Green Team member Molly Faulkner stood with other members behind a set of three waste receptacles. From there, she explained to the attentive students that they should put different forms of lunch waste in each of the bins.
One receptacle was for food scraps, another for recyclables and a third for trash. In addition, the polystyrene trays from which the children ate belonged in a separate pile altogether.
With those instructions in mind, children walked their trays and brought-from-home lunch waste forward and listened as Green Team members helped them place their articles in the different bins.
Overall, it was a success, Faulkner said after the lunch period. “The kids did a great job.”
Tuesday’s pilot was intended to introduce the second graders to a composting and recycling project that Green Team members hope to implement throughout the Wayland Public School system in the coming years. For now, it's in a one-grade-at-a-time mode.
The School Compost and Garden Project spearheaded by the Wayland Green Team is designed to reduce waste at the schools, teach students about environmental responsibility and, Green Team members hope, equip students to take the lessons learned at school home to their parents.
“Elementary schools are the most important because they generate the most waste,” Faulkner explained.
Plus, added Green member Andrea Case, “When you insert a culture [at a young age], it rises up.”
As an added bonus, the project has the potential to reduce waste removal costs for the school. After Tuesday’s pilot, the Green Team weighed the three types of waste generated. In all, the recyclables weighed five pounds, the food scraps weighed 11 pounds and the trash weighed only four.
Green Team member Kaat Vander Straeten said the school pays by weight to dispose of the food scraps and trash, which totaled 15 pounds Tuesday. Separated out, however, the 11 pounds of food scraps went to a compost bin outside the school, reducing the weight the school paid to have removed to only four pounds – a nearly 75 percent reduction.
Currently, Claypit Hill has only one makeshift compost bin into which Faulkner dumped the food scraps (green products) and then covered those with shredded dead leaves (brown products).
The best composting mix, Vander Straeten explained, is one part green waste, which is nitrogen-rich, to three parts brown waste, which is carbon-rich.
It is easy to see how that one composting bin could fill quickly with 11 pounds of food waste generated from a single lunch period. Luckily, a successful in early June generated $3,175 for the Green Team to use at Wayland’s five schools. With that money, they will construct four, six-by-six-by-four composting bins at Claypit and two bins at .
Green Team members and volunteers will build the composting bins July 12-15.
In the fall, second graders and Claypit Hill and seventh graders at WMS will take part in a full pilot of the composting project. The compost created will be used for gardens and other landscaping needs at the schools.
“We want to make the kids aware of what they’re trashing,” Vander Straeten said. “But we don’t want to give them guilt. This provides them with an immediate solution.”