Students get sloppy to help save the environment - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Students get sloppy to help save the environment

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Lunch leftovers may be sloppy and stinky, but they're also useful.

As part of a test run Friday for a potential composting program, kindergartners and seniors alike at Central Community School in Elkader got to see just how much food they waste during a normal lunchtime.

"It's a feasibility study," science teacher Ann Gritzner said. "We're doing some measuring as to how much compost is going to be generated. We're weighing the trash to see how much trash we accumulate in one day, and then we're looking to see, then, where we go from there, so we can maybe get a program installed for next year."

On Friday, and for the first time ever, students set up and visited a multi-bin station in the lunch room, where they separated their scraps.

"Basically, what we sort it from trash to vegetables and what can be composted and what the meat is," junior Charlie Breimon explained. "Once we have that, we tie it up and bring it out here and dump it."

Outside the lunchroom was a blue tarp filled with food scraps, for all the students to see.

"We're trying to see how much we can actually get going and how much we can actually use for compost and hopefully use it down in our school garden," junior Bailie Koehn said. "We obviously throw away a lot more than I thought we did and it'll be nice that it can be used for something else other than going in a landfill."

That's especially important here in Clayton County.

"Many people don't realize this, but Clayton County does not have a landfill," Gritzner said. "Our trash actually gets sent to a neighboring county, and so we want to try to limit our mark on the earth as much as possible."

Gritzner teaches the science class that's leading the effort to bring composting to Central Community School.

"As part of this, the class also formed a new organization here at the school that we call the Central Green Team," Gritzner explained. "Our goal is to, once we get the composting up and running and off the ground, to maybe tackle some other issues, too: to look at making our building more energy-efficient, cleaning up some areas in the community, planting some trees around the community."

As for Friday's food scrap pile, the fruits and vegetable will be composted and reduced to soil that may one day go in the school's garden. The meat from lunch will go to a local man, who wants to make it into dog food.

Altogether, the 450 students of Central Community School diverted 110 pounds of food scraps from the landfill Friday, reducing their normal amount of lunchtime waste by roughly 60 percent.

84 pounds of that was compostable material and 26 pounds went to the possible dog food pile. 70 pounds of trash, which includes napkins and milk cartons, went to the landfill.

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