During the beginning of school last year, first grade students in Brooke Donovan’s class conducted a classroom waste audit. “We took a close look at the amount of trash we generated after one lunch. Students counted the number of yogurt cups, plastic forks and knives, juice boxes and other trash that we generated” she noted. “Then they discussed what they could do to reduce this waste.”
“Our first goal was “no more plastic water bottles,” as students brought in reusable cups and bottles from home. The second goal, “No tin foil.” This quickly morphed into students bringing in reusable lunch containers, utensils, and cloth napkins. After learning that Americans use millions of straws a day, they opted to “skip the straw.”
Students became excited about the changes. “I had students coming up to me and announcing, ‘Look my mom bought me a reusable spoon!” said Donovan.
Donovan’s efforts in the classroom extended to other areas of the lower school. This spring, Shipley’s lower school announced “Waste Free Wednesdays” as a way to start making changes. (LINK to waste free options)
Pre K, K, and first grade classes now have compost buckets for their fruits and vegetable scraps. Fifth graders pick up the classroom compost bins and take them to the compost tumblers just outside the cafeteria.
“There is a great connection to science,” notes Science Teacher Dan Del Duca. “Students can see the decomposition process happening within a few weeks”
Miss Donovan adds, “I love seeing how students see that they are part of the solution to reduce waste. This then becomes second nature for them.” Just ask Shipley’s youngest students, they are happy to share their knowledge.
By Mary Ann Boyer of Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants