Starting this month, six Cincinnati Public Schools are taking a step to improve their schools’ environmental impact. Silverton Paideia, Rockdale Academy, Pleasant Ridge Montessori, Roselawn Condon, Rees E. Price and Dater High School are participating in Sustainability in Action, a program envisioned by Keep Cincinnati Beautiful and realized through CPS, thanks to funding from Procter and Gamble, Cincinnati’s Office of Environmental Quality and Hamilton County Recycling & Solid Waste District. Each school has designated a staff member as its sustainability coordinator, who is paid like a coach, to devote time to helping the school meet its sustainability goals.
Sustainability in Action is starting with six schools as part of its pilot program but hopes to eventually expand to all Cincinnati Public Schools. The program was kicked-off on Friday, January 6, 2011 at Silverton Paideia. Those of us attending the press release were able to witness the students sorting their lunchroom waste at the end of the meal. In many schools, there is just one trash can to receive all waste generated in the lunchroom. Silverton students sort their waste into Recycle, Compost or Trash after emptying all liquids into a bucket at the start of the line. Although the system just started this week, the students we observed were diligent in making sure they put their waste in the right place. Colorful image-based signs above each container showed students exactly what went where to reduce error.
I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity of items students were allowed to throw in the compost. For those of us with home compost systems, we know to only put plant-based food scraps in our compost bins. But when your compostables are going to a commercial composting facility, which has hotter and more actively managed piles, you can throw all food waste and even paper products and milk cartons into the compost collector.
Sustainability in Action will not only reduce waste, energy consumption and water use at the schools, but will create a new set of habits in students, who will share them with their families. As the schools shift from thinking about building green to focusing on acting green, they will not only save money, but will develop a new set of informed citizens concerned about how their daily actions influence the environment around them. Here at the Civic Garden Center, we look forward to meeting the students from the SIA schools as they visit the Green Learning Station to learn more about the big pictures behind what happens to waste, where stormwater goes and how food grows.
– Ryan Mooney-Bullock, Green Learning Station Program Manager