CCSD Composting and Earth Day - April 22, 2013
by Maggie Harrelson Dangerfield, Sustainability Coordinator
Happy Earth Day, everyone! In honor of Earth Day this year,CCSD is celebrating at dozens of schools around the District. Earth Day is an annual celebration, first established in 1970 as a day for an environmental teach-in and global support for environmental protection. Various organizations around the Lowcountry celebrated this weekend and today with festivals, tours, and family fun.
CCSD’s partner organization in recycling, Charleston County Environmental Management, hosted their 14th annual Earth Day Festival on Saturday at Riverfront Park in North Charleston. The festival offered a hands-on science-based interactive experience, designed to encourage participants of all ages to develop a deeper understanding of environmental issues.
In similar fashion to the County’s celebration of environmental education, a celebration special to the District is the successful launch of our first-ever elementary school commercial composting pilot across CCSD. Beginning in September 2012, Lambs Elementary was the first school to begin participation in the pilot program with help and sponsorship from Bosch (through their annual Day of Caring), Charleston County Environmental Management, and Food Waste Disposal, LLC. Since September, ten more CCSD elementary schools have joined the program with
Mary Ford, Stono Park, and Springfield Elementary launching in late November 2012, and Angel Oak, Sullivan's Island, Belle Hall, James Island Elementary, Harborview, Ashley River Creative Arts, and James B. Edwards Elementary launching during January and February.
Students and teachers alike have seen the physical and educational impact of food waste diversion. “The kids really have the hang of composting! They have really gotten into it and enjoy helping the environment. It is amazing the amount of food we have been able to compost and divert from the trash! What an exciting initiative to be a part of,” says Beth Mountz, a teacher and composting participant at Springfield Elementary.
Since the start of the composting program, almost all of the pilot schools have had at least one or two, even as many as three reductions in the number of days their traditional trash dumpster is serviced. With an average annual savings price tag of $1,346 per day of service eliminated, the program has well paid for itself and even generated a significant chunk of savings of its own within the District’s overall waste bill.
This program’s success comes on the heels of a nearly $100,000 reduction to the District’s solid waste user fee bill from the 2011-2012 school year paid annually to Charleston County thanks to the diligent work and dedication of teachers, students, and staff involved in the District’s Sustainable Schools Initiative. This group of individuals has achieved this goal through their efforts to increase recycling, reduce the amount of space taken up in the dumpster through space saving tactics such as the “tapping and stacking” of disposable lunch trays, and check the fullness of their school’s dumpster to determine when another reduction in service or dumpster size can be made.
As of April 12th, the eleven composting schools together have diverted an amazing 96,399 pounds of food waste from going to the landfill. The District composting program is expected to continue expansion from its pilot phase to additional elementary schools across the District during the 2013-2014 school year. We thank and applaud our pilot schools for all their work to help us save resources and the environment!
To learn more about this program and how your school can participate in this great opportunity as well as other sustainable activities, contact Maggie Harrelson Dangerfield, Sustainability Coordinator, in the Office of Risk, Safety, and Environmental Management at firstname.lastname@example.org or (843) 566-1962.