Important Update: At this point our Zero Waste Initiative is not fully funded. We are looking into creating a Sustainability Team of interested parents who will explore alternative methods of funding. We'll need to raise approximately $2000. The Zero Waste Initiative was launched in 2019 as a way to combat the thousands of pounds of non-biodegradable waste generated each year by the Oak Grove Cafeteria. Bags and bags of Styrofoam and plastic are thrown away each day. In response, we partnered with CompostNow, a company that focuses on commercial and residential composting in the metro area and beyond. In a nutshell, CompostNow delivered large collection bins which were placed in the cafeteria, alongside trash and recycling bins. Dekalb County Schools supplied us with compostable paperboard trays and washable metal silverware. (They even installed a brand new commercial dishwasher.) At the end of each lunch period OGE students sorted their waste into the three containers. Where before we were pulling up to 14 bags of trash to the dumpster, with the Zero Waste Initiative, we got that number down to approximately 1.5 bags, and one bin of compostable food waste and paper trays - a reduction of an estimated 90% of solid waste each and every day. CompostNow hauled away the filled bins and left us with new clean bins twice a week We assembled a Team of Zero Waste Heroes from grades 3-5, who monitored the process each day, and who were responsible for outreach to the greater school community. See the video below to get an idea of how it worked.
This video is 100% kid written and produced.
Beside the obvious environmental benefit, the program tapped into a large number of enthusiastic Zero Waste Heroes and also gave entire school a sense of pride and shared experience. The cost of the service was approximately $500/month for 8 bins per week and two drop-off/pickups. That price was dependent on an enrollment of 500+ students. With enrollment at OGE down that number would be smaller. We could also reduce costs by dropping to one pickup per week. The program was co-funded by OGE PTA and Foundation but at least half of that funding is no longer available. A Sustainability Team would look at alternate sources of funding, tapping area business, larger corporations, or employing old-fashioned grassroots fundraising. The ultimate goal would be for the program to be fully funded by sources other than PTA and Foundation. If you are interested in joining the Sustainability Team, sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090e4eaca72ba2f85-zero Contact Shaun McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.