Protecting our Planet: Let's Slash Our Trash!
In 2010, Carondelet will begin composting our lunchtime food waste. That means the students will use a separate container for “organic” material such as food waste, paper napkins and waxed paper, which will then be turned into compost at a commercial composting facility. Composting the organic material sequesters greenhouse gases and provides an environmentally friendly alternative to synthetic fertilizers. Compost replenishes soil, reduces erosion and diminishes storm water runoff from contaminating our wetlands, lakes and streams.
In addition to the environmental benefits, composting also provides a wonderful educational opportunity by offering hands-on learning about decomposition and environmental stewardship.
Watch Carondelet's 2008 Green Film Fest video on packing “litterless lunches” and learn more about the benefits of composting.
How can I help? Below are some of the ways you can help with the composting program.
Pack a “litterless lunch”:
A litterless lunch means that only compostable items should be left over (banana peels or apple cores for example) and everything else should be brought home to be reused.
Reusable Containers, Fewer Baggies
Try replacing Ziploc bags with reusable plastic containers with lids that can be used to hold everything from crackers and cookies, to rolls of lunch meat or cut up fruit and sandwiches. Empty lidded yogurt or deli salad containers (both of which are generally not recyclable) can be used and fit easily into a lunch box/bag, cooler or backpack. Rather than tossing out those empty plastic bread loaf bags, give them a second life and put your kid’s sandwich or snacks in them instead. By reusing containers you will save hundreds of plastic lunch and snack baggies that would otherwise be thrown away. If you use plastic baggies, encourage your child to bring them home for washing and reusing. You can also consider waxed paper instead of cling wrap, or specialty options such as the Wrap-n-Mat, which you can easily wipe down or toss into the wash.
Make Your Own “Snack Packs”
The supermarket is loaded with time-saving, individually wrapped, portion-controlled, lunch items that may seem like a good idea, but often create more waste than value. By purchasing lunch items in larger quantities and then filling smaller containers yourself, you will save on one of the biggest waste producers in kids’ lunches - excess packaging (as well as saving yourself money!) You can freeze 4 oz mini containers of things like apple sauce from a 48 oz jar if you’re worried about getting through the larger portions.
If your child is willing to skip the mini-packs of Cheetos and Doritos, replace with apples, oranges, bananas, and other fruit which are healthful, waste-free snackables that come with their own compostable wrapping. Or, buy a large pack of chips and dole out snack-sized portions in reusable containers.
Juice Boxes are NOT Our Friends
Juice boxes contain a foil and plastic liner, which is not compostable. Milk cartons can be composted. If your child is not a milk drinker, consider a reusable, BPA-free drink bottle.
Are you Going to Eat That?
Many kids don’t consider the environmental impact of throwing food away when they don’t eat what has been packed for lunch. When food goes uneaten, it becomes a waste of the resources and energy required to grow, harvest, transport, and produce the item they decide they don’t want (or can’t trade to their friends). Carondelet kids are encouraged to take home items they don’t eat so parents can see what is and isn’t being eaten.
Volunteer in the Lunchroom
Another way you can help is to volunteer in the lunchroom. We’ll need parents to assist the kids on figuring out what can and can’t be composted during the first few weeks of the new system. An easy rule of thumb is “What can a worm eat?” Worms will eat through food soiled paper and food items, but won’t touch plastic, glass, rubber or metal/foil. We’ll also need older kids to spread the word and volunteer as compost monitors (they can use the time towards service hours). Parent and student volunteers should contact our organics coordinator Felicity Britton, at email@example.com. A brief training will be provided and volunteer time would be most likely just one lunch period at the campus of your choice.
Support the concept at home
Carondelet stresses respect for each other and the environment. Composting teaches the children the lesson that nature waste nothing, and to seek environmentally-friendly alternatives to the status quo. By packing litterless lunches, volunteering in the lunchroom, composting at home, or being supportive of the concept, you’re providing your child an environmental role model they can look up to. For those living in Linden Hills and ECCO, the city provides curbside pickup of organics if you don’t care to compost in the backyard. If you would like more information, or to order a free organics cart, contact Felicity on the email above.
Thanks in advance for your support!
Carondelet’s Compost Committee:
Brigid Berger, Felicity Britton, Jamie Hera, Maureen Mack, Meghan Pote, Sr. Kathleen Ryan