September 28, 2011

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Eat Soup

Earlier this week a friend sent me this poster to the left. It was no coincidence that it arrived immediately following Friends' School's wonderful elementary Harvest Celebration.  We are looking forward to celebrating Harvest with the preschool families on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday next week.

Taking part in my first Friends’ School Harvest, I was amazed at the sensational family involvement.  Every morning for the last week, students and parents have been bringing in bags of homegrown produce from their own backyards.  At school, the children picked delicious vegetables from our own Friends' garden. It was a wonderful community effort.  I was honored to continue the tradition of telling the story of Stone Soup and I enjoyed the enthusiastic participation of the actors – both kids and the gallant parents who played the part of the cooking pot.  Nice bubbling, people!

Following the storytelling, students, parents, grandparents, and teachers shared lunch together, with each classroom making its own steaming pot of Stone Soup.  What impressed me is that every class made a huge effort to create zero waste, with families bringing in their own bowls and utensils.

As a school we have made massive strides in the last couple of years to increase our recycling and composting programs.  Working with Western Disposal’s commercial programs, we are able to compost not just organic matter from plants – such as vegetables and paper – we can also compost chicken bones and egg shells.   We are recycling all plastics #1-7 including the plastic caps on washed out bottles and jars.

Operations Assistant Dacia Horn and Kindergarten teacher Laurie Nakauchi have been instrumental in moving the school towards a goal of zero waste.  Laurie encourages her students to use the appropriate compost and recycle bins and actively encourages them to use re-usable containers or at least recyclable aluminum foil when they bring in their lunch.  Plastic baggies are strongly discouraged.  Dacia not only cooks mouth-watering nutritious meals for us, she takes pride in “taking the effort to just wash the spoons” (and the forks and the plates and the glasses!) and she replaced our plastic and paperware with stainless steel, pottery and glass. As a result of the school’s communal efforts, we have reduced our trash output by an estimated 75% in the last couple of years.

Yet we can all do better.  If you’re coming to school with an Ozo’s coffee cup or a snack in hand, please take the extra second to toss your waste into the appropriate bin – the compost bins have green liners.  You will continue to reduce the amount of garbage we are shipping off to the landfill, and Laurie’s kindergartners will greatly appreciate it.  

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