As the lunch bell rings and students rush to leave the lunch room, they now take care to separate their lunch into trash and food, instead of simply throwing it all away, as was done in past years. These eco friendly habits began last year when the Benilde-St. Margaret’s composting program started.
Each day around thirty to forty pounds of composted material, such as paper, milk cartons and food, are collected. “It’s going pretty well, but we could do better,” said Mr. Lex who initiated the composting program.
As the program continues, Mr. Lex hopes to keep expanding, as there is still more BSM can do. Students need to work a bit harder to separate their lunches into the appropriate bins, said Mr. Lex. He also wants to move into composting kitchen waste.
The environmental club works on the process, promoting and expanding the program. “We’re thinking of ways to reward people for composting,” said a member of the environmental club, junior Anna Landis.
By separating organic materials such as foods and paper from the trash, BSM decreases the school’s waste and puts the extra scraps to good use. Compost then stays out of landfills, and the material can be a great fertilizer and soil for gardening. This is in keeping with Mr. Lex’s belief that a Catholic school should act as a steward of the earth.
After the various pieces of students’ lunch are separated into trash and composting bins, the maintenance staffsees that they go to different places. “The regular garbage people pick it up and bring it to a compost factory,” said Mr. Lex.
The two special metal garbage separators that BSM had to purchase cost $2,000 each. On top of that, the $200 fee for biweekly trash pick up and the cost of the 60 cent apiece biodegradable bags add up to make this an expensive operation. BSM received a grant from Hennepin County to cover part of the cost initially, but now the school is on its own. “It cost us money to do this, but it’s the right thing to do,” said Mr. John Troesch, head of the maintenance staff.
Students have mixed feelings regarding the process of separating their trash. Some think it is easy and worthwhile and see the benefits to composting. “It’s pretty easy. All you have to do is scrape your plate,” said junior John Worley.
Still other students, like junior Ben Grunewald, disagree and find composting to be a hassle. “I think it’s annoying. I don’t want to have to think about my trash,” said Grunewald.