Composting at Grace: Do the Work, Make a Difference

Media provided by Gazette Media Staff.

In recent years, the issue of climate change has become much more widely acknowledged by society. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, a change in our way of living is needed now more than ever and many suggest that small changes will begin to make a difference. A new method of composting has emerged as a solution to lessen Grace’s waste production. 

So what exactly is composting? Compost is waste, mainly food waste, but it is also made up of organic materials and plants. Composting ultimately reduces landfill waste by repurposing it into plant fertilizer.

Grace’s food waste policy for the lower and high school is relatively simple. Grace complies with the city policy by using compost bins. All the food from the kitchen that doesn’t get served is composted at the end of the day. In addition to this step, both the school and the kitchen encourage people to use the correct bin for their waste, but this system has its flaws: it’s difficult to ensure that everyone chooses the right bin all the time. Unfortunately, more often than not, people don’t take a few extra seconds to make sure everything is going in the right bin. 

Peer pressure evidently has a role in composting as it’s easy to follow what your friends do. In an interview with the Gazette, Ms. Chaloner, the Dean of Community Life, remarked, “I would love to see more people feel okay about doing it together. So, if you see a friend put something in the wrong bin, I’d love it if it was okay to say ‘hey, that goes there!’ instead of people feeling like that was finger-wagging.” 

Students in the Environmental Club echoed Ms. Chaloner’s remarks. Yanna Glogov ‘23 claimed, “To make our food waste system more eco-friendly we can make sure to throw waste into the correct bins and have all of them out in the cafeteria. Please be mindful of the signs above the bins in the cafeteria! They’re very helpful!” 

Luke Resetarits ‘22 added his own thoughts on what Grace can do going forward with the school’s sustainability efforts. “In order to make our food waste system even more environmentally friendly,” he said, “I think we need to educate students more about the harmful effects of food waste and what food can and can’t go in the compost bins. Additionally, I think we could use our compost to support gardening efforts the school has already taken on. I could see us using some of our compost to help enrich the soil in the garden plots outside Grace.”

Ms. Chaloner also mentioned that it has been extremely difficult to reduce the use of single-use plastic at Grace, specifically in the last year because of the pandemic. “When we ate in the family style, people had more options,” she claimed. “When we ate in the pre-packaged way, students had less options about what they wanted to eat, and when people have less options they tend to waste more.”

But Ms. Chaloner placed the most emphasis on the power that students have, claiming that students are the people who can make the biggest difference. If members of our community want to make a difference, they must understand just how impactful composting is. According to Bridging the Gap, a volunteer environmental program in the Kansas City area, composting can reduce the use of harmful fertilizers which is better for both the plants and us.

It may seem like a small idea but, in reality, one person composting their food slowly leads to the many others following. If people commit themselves to this small notion, the world can become cleaner, safer, and more eco-friendly for future generations by preventing erosion, runoff, and poor water quality. Why wait when we can make a change now? For all these reasons, please take the extra few seconds to think about where to discard your waste.