The current generation is constantly hearing about the importance of protecting our environment and with the threat of impending climate changes on the horizon, it’s obvious why.
According to Statistics Canada, in 2008, 26 million tonnes of Canadian waste ended up in landfills or was incinerated. Sounds fine, right? After all, it will only take several hundred years for some of it to decompose.
Actually, there’s even more to it than that. The decomposition of organic wastes produces a gas that is composed primarily of methane, a greenhouse gas that is found to be a large contributor to climate change. These gas emissions from landfills across the country account for approximately 20 per cent of all Canadian methane emissions.
With these statistics in mind, École secondaire Neelin High School is taking a huge leap in the right direction and striving to protect the planet with one of its new programs. After almost a year of research, planning and preparation, Neelin’s Eco Club has finally launched a composting system for the school. The goal is to reduce the amount the waste produced by the school, utilize the resources at hand and show the world just how simple it can be to preserve our environment.
Likewise, a similar pilot program has taken place at Crocus Plains since the beginning of this school year, but without any certainty about when the project would be approved divisionwide, Neelin’s Eco Club decided to begin working out the kinks on its own.
After receiving a monetary grant from Learning for a Sustainable Future, the group worked with school staff and other community members to find the most efficient and successful system that would suit everyone’s needs. After much hard work and anticipation, the school is finally able to begin the program.
Additionally, starting in September, our cafeteria began using compostable plates. However, even in a school the size of Neelin, the amount of extra brown material that will be produced on a daily basis due to these plates will be far too much for either of our two large bins to handle. As a result, the school is prepared to collect the dishes separately and offer them to the public. After all, many home compost bins rarely have enough brown material to compensate for their food waste. The school hopes to receive support from the community in this way until a better solution is devised. Any excess material will have to be taken to the landfill.
In the long run, this composting strategy is merely a part of an even larger agenda that I and other members of the Eco Club have been outlining since the beginning of the school year.
During the summer, in an expansion of the staff parking lot, our school lost several trees and avenging them has always been a high priority on our list. On top of that, the group is working to organize a school garden that could be fertilized with our compost and from which fruits and vegetables could be used in our canteen. Furthermore, we plan to look into landscaping and making better use of the school’s green space.
The group intends to spend the remainder of this school year finding creative ways to educate students and staff on the rules and benefits of composting in the hopes of making this project as sustainable as possible.
» Rikki Bergen is a Grade 11 student at École secondaire Neelin High School.