Cafeterias start compost program, halt plastic sales

In recent weeks, CUSD’s cafeterias have taken a huge step towards reducing waste and becoming more environmentally friendly by implementing a new composting system and halting plastic bottled water sales.

The greatest changes involved in this new initiative are the distribution of 100 percent compostable containers and utensils from the cafeterias, as well as the encouragement of students to utilize the filtered water fountains by using reusable water bottles instead of purchasing plastic bottles.

Spearheading the movement on the CHS campus have been the Environmental Club and club advisor Jason Maas-Baldwin, in addition to students enrolled in the AP Environmental Science course.

Senior Jenny Verheul in the cafeteria with the help of the Environmental Club.

Senior Jenny Verheul in the cafeteria with the help of the Environmental Club.

“Monterey Regional Waste District thought we had some of the infrastructure [necessary] for [the compost program] because we have an active Environmental Club and the APES class,” Maas-Baldwin says.

The club participants and students kicked off the new initiative by manning an information table outside the cafeteria along with a Monterey Regional Waste District representative. They will continue to volunteer during lunch breaks over the next three months by helping other students dispose of their waste in the proper recycling and compost receptacles.

The middle school and high school campuses are not the only ones undergoing change in aid of the environmental cause. Margot Grych, head of the Tularcitos Elementary School garden program, says the school’s fifth graders are currently working on a “Compost Colony” project in the campus garden. She also notes that Tularcitos is currently encouraging high schoolers to volunteer in the garden as well.

At the Middle School, science teacher and District Environmental Team member Pat Stadille explains that students sort their waste into different buckets for compost, cans and bottles. The recycled cans and bottles are then cashed in for money that will be donated to environmental organizations.

CUSD’s initiative is unique within the local area because it is the first public school district to partner up with Monterey Regional Waste Management District, which uses a highly advanced system to generate renewable energy from compost waste.

Kimberle Herring, the education coordinator for MRWMD, says the system can also have great economic benefits. She notes that the recent developments in waste reduction technology have increased the demand for careers in renewable energy, which could be exciting for young students interested in the field.
-Megan Holett