A Greener School: Composting at HHS By Sandy Yu
Hanover High has strived to be a green school through its excellent student-run initiatives, including Zero-Sort Recycling—which saves the school $6,000 annually—and the plastic bag campaign. And now there is another one.
Over the past few weeks, you may have noticed a new addition to the recycling bins. Perhaps you’ve spotted the enigmatic red bins in the atrium and cafe. Well, those red bins are for the newest green effort: a composting program here at HHS, which started on October 20.
If you don’t know about composting, or if you need a quick reminder, please allow me to refresh your memory. You can compost just about any food or beverage at a “waste station” located in the Café or atrium. Yes, even meat, chicken bones, and dairy products can go into those red bins. You can toss the bagel that got too stale or pour the drink you couldn’t finish into those red composting buckets. And don’t worry about the smell— the bins are emptied every day by a dedicated composting team. If you are suddenly struck with amnesia and don’t remember how or what to compost, take heart in knowing that there are signs at the waste stations that can answer all your composting questions.
Please do not compost plastics, paper products, chewing gum, or other non-organic wastes. Place these items into the zero-sort recycling bins if they are recyclable, and throw un-recyclable items into the trash.
You may be wondering, “Well, where does the compost go after I dump my food scraps into the red bin?” The compost is collected every Friday by Bob Sanburg, who uses the compost from HHS to make fertilizer. Simply put, there are no vats of steaming compost anywhere on HHS grounds.
Composting is a great addition to the other environmental programs at HHS. It will benefit the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions: when organic materials are sent to a landfill instead of being composted, they decompose in a process that produces methane gas, which is a greenhouse gas over 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide. This is not good for the environment.
Composting is also beneficial because it helps fight erosion in soils, and soils treated with compost can hold more water. Crops grown in composted soils do not require artificial fertilizers that can have a neg
ative impact on the environment.
Even though the HHS student body may be but a drop of water in an ocean of people, HHS should do its part to help the environment. Nick Graver, a senior and leader of the HHS Environmental Club, says, “Although the demands of a sustainable planet often seem to be unreachable 90% deductions and drastic political reform, the success of programs such as Zero-Sort Recycling, the plastic bag campaign, and hopefully the compost program reveal on a small scale how the actions of a few individuals can make our school community into a powerful force for a sustainable world.”
The composting program and other environmental initiatives are entirely student-run. Credit goes to the Environmental Club and also Rachel Finlayson, who played a large role in the creation of the composting program. The program would not have been possible without the help of Council, the staff, and the administration. If anyone wants to help out or has any additional questions, feel free to contact Environmental Club members. Do your part in helping HHS to be eco-friendly!