One of Millard's Elementary Schools is diverting nearly a pound of trash per child per week from the landfill. Black Elk Elementary has over 500 students. With that many students eating lunch, the school would go through 12 bins of trash each day. This past summer, Black Elk was awarded a $13,000 grant from the Claire M. Hubbard Foundation to help change that. "We were challenged by Ann Hubbard to think about how can we do things differently" school teacher librarian Nicole Chudomelka explained.
Chudomelka wanted to create a project that would encourage students to reduce waste and teach them something at the same time. With the help of Hillside Solutions, Black Elk started a composting initiative. Chudomelka says because Black Elk is an International Baccalaureate school, composting touches on every grade level's learning somewhere throughout the year. "It's also just a life skill to take car of our environment and do our part for that." Hillside Solutions' Bret Kinnan says the company feels strongly about educating students, "Teaching kids where the food comes from and goes and it's a symbiotic relationship with food waste and composting. If we can train kids to get on board at a young age, they're going to be doing this as an adult."
After students finish their lunch they dispose of their liquids, compostable and non-compostable materials items in separate bins. Hillside Solutions then takes the material to a compost farm where the material will break down into enriched soil. Later this spring, the school plans to use some of the soil to plant vegetables.
After one week of composting, the school was able to divert over 500 pounds of material from the landfill.