Student pushes for composting option

Aimee Brown

An avid environmentalist, Makenzie Henk is a junior who has devoted herself to the “Go Green” cause. With high hopes for change, Henk has been independently researching new ways to help save the Earth as well as working with Benilde-St. Margaret’s Environmental Club.

Henk’s main focus is on The Environmental Club, which is currently working with the possibilities of composting. “Composting is basically taking biodegradable products like food and paper and kind of mulching them up and turning them into a product that can be put back into the earth instead of having to be put into landfills,” said Henk.

Henk plans on initiating a transition for BSM to become a composting school. She thinks that it will probably start in the junior high and then eventually assimilate into the high school as well. “Shannon Fasola and I have visited Susan Lindgren Elementary School, which has had a composting program for a couple of years now. We saw how they did it and they have a really simple program that we don’t think will be too hard to get to Benilde,” said Henk.

When Henk talked to Anne Sullivan, the principal of Susan Lindgren, in order to find out more about their composting program. Sullivan informed her of an organic recycling (also known as composting) meeting at the St. Louis Park Jr. High. Henk, along with Mr. Mark Lex, the Environmental Club supervisor, and some other staff members, went to the meeting and met with other schools that have joined the program.

Some changes at BSM that would have to be made include getting better biodegradable silverware, throwing away leftover food or paper waste into a composting can instead of the garbage, and working with Taher to use more eco-friendly containers for foods.

The process for composting the waste is not something BSM would have to worry about. “It gets picked up with the garbage and then the garbage company takes it to a composting facility where they do all of the composting themselves, so we do not have to take care of any of that,” said Henk.

Altogether, the members of the Environmental Club are hoping for this change. Mr. Lex added his efforts by talking to the maintenance staff, Taher, and Mr. Dave Platt (for the possible junior high change), along with going to composting meetings. “We’re still working on some roadblocks, so it may take some time, but we haven’t gotten real far just yet,” said Mr. Lex.

Sparked with a passion for taking action to make all of these changes, what got Henk so interested in the environmental cause was seeing how pollution and landfills have impacted the world, especially animals and third world countries. “Because developed countries have greatly caused global warming, many people around the globe in undeveloped countries will be displaced because their water source, glaciers, will disappear. So because of this their lives are going to be drastically changed,” said Henk.

Some small changes Henk said people can make to help conserve energy and CO2 emissions are unplugging unused electronics such as cell phone chargers and hair straighteners, switching light bulbs to compact florescent light bulbs, and turning down your house’s thermostat in the winter then up during the summer. “These are just some things so your house is not working so hard, and they are easy to do and don’t really affect your life, but it can make a great impact if everyone can do it,” said Henk.

Outside of school and apart from implementing her eco-friendly tips in her own life, Henk is still doing more to make changes. “I send a lot of letters and e-mails to our representatives…they get a handful of things from me,” said Henk. Henk is also a part of the Sierra Club, a deeply rooted environmental organization she was introduced to through an environmental activist camp she went to over the summer. She is always open to new ideas and ways to change her lifestyle to be more eco-friendly.

“I would say she’s probably one of the most loyal and dedicated of the Environmental Club members that we have, she’s been in it longer than any of the current club members, and she works hard at it,” said Mr. Lex.