Trash. Recycling. Compost. Food goes into the compost bin with plates. Cardboard and plastic things go into the recycling bin. Everything else goes in the trash. It’s a system simple enough for elementary schoolers to master the environmental clubs president, Ada Throckmorton said when she talked about the system. Yet last year at East, it didn’t go so well, Throckmorton said. So this year the Environmental Club is trying to remodel the composting system.
“There was a period where it did a little bit better towards the beginning of the year,” Throckmorton said. “People were like, ‘hey it’s a new system,’ and we also had kids standing over and watching bins. We had a successful program for about a month and then after that things kind of went downhill again.”
People being in a hurry and not paying attention where they were throwing things away hurt the program, explained Throckmorton. So this year the club is trying some things differently. There are two main ideas to revive the composting program and the club’s project this year.
One idea, they’re trying this year, is changing the color of the bins so that people will be able to distinctly tell the difference between compost, recycling and trash. The idea is that if the bins are all different colors, then people will be able to distinctly tell them apart, rather than just having a sign on the bin that says what it is.
“We’re not picking like pretty pastels,” Throckmorton said. “We’re going to pick royal blue, red and green. Just distinct enough so that people know the difference.”
The club has also discussed putting lids on the bins with holes in them, to slow people down when they’re going to throw things away. The club is hoping that this will make people stop and think about what they’re throwing where, instead of just throwing everything into one bin.
The club is waiting for approval on grant from the Shawnee Mission East Foundation, which will meet Sept. 9. If their grant isn’t approved they will try to get the bins through the Custodial Management Budget to get the new cafeteria bins. The club is hoping to have the new system up by late September.
Retrofit Water Fountains
Along with remodeling the composting system, the club plans on applying for a grant to ‘retrofit’ the water fountains.
A retrofit water fountain, is a water fountain that has a device on top that can quickly fill up a water bottle. On the device, there’s a digital counter, counting how many water bottles you’ve saved with it.
“Above the water fountain goes another little dial where you can fill up a water bottle,” Throckmorton said. “Every water bottle that gets filled up by the sensor, also goes into a counter, so there’s a little digital counter shows how many water bottles the school has saved in total.”
This device is installed above a water fountain. The club originally hoped to just get one, but now they’re hoping to have them installed on a drinking fountain on every floor.
The idea is that these new devices on the water fountains will help save plastic water bottles and raise awareness about water conservation.
There’s also a hope that the quicker process will help to cut down on hallway congestion and help keep students more hydrated at school.
The Green Corner would be an area set up in the cafeteria where you’d have all of the composting bins and recycling bins, instead of having them strung out across the cafeteria.
“I think, at this point, [the Green Corner is] the best approach because the ‘Green Corner’ is just so much more pragmatic,” Throckmorton said. “Then people who aren’t interested in composting wouldn’t have to, but those who wanted to could do so would and not have their efforts damaged.”
This idea has been paired with the idea of creating a raffle to help encourage people to compost. An environmental club member or PTA parent would sit at the bins. The people that compost in the Green Corner would get a raffle ticket. At the end of the week, in every lunch, a few tickets would be drawn and whoever’s gets drawn, would win a gift card.
Members of the club have spent the summer trying to find local businesses to sponsor the idea.