Hockinson Middle School Students Launch Cafeteria Composting and Recycling Program

Students use composting and recycling sorting tables in middle school cafeteria.

Student uses the composting and recycling sorting table at the middle school cafeteria

This winter, students at Hockinson Middle School begin using a sorting station in the cafeteria to compost and recycle lunch scraps. This project reduces waste while centering student voice in school decisions. The initiative is being spearheaded by student leaders, supported by Hockinson Middle School administration and Clark County Green Schools. Hockinson Middle School is the 50th school in Clark County to adopt a cafeteria waste sorting process.

Earlier this year, members of the Student Advisory Council at Hockinson Middle School observed a problem: all of their lunch waste was going to the landfill. Following the successful composting and recycling program at Hockinson Heights Elementary School, the students worked with principal Meredith Gannon to send a proposition for an HMS waste sorting table to Clark County Green Schools. The resulting composting and recycling program has reduced landfill waste at Hockinson Middle School from four large trash bags per day to under one bag per day.

“This is a great example of how students with a vision can generate big changes when supported to do so by school staff and administration,” said Samantha Springs LeCain, Clark County Green Schools program lead. “Student leaders have been imperative in the mission to launch a composting program at HMS. The students had observed a potential area of improvement at their school and took initiative to present a solution to staff.”

This will reduce waste going to the landfill and lower our trash collection costs,” said Meredith Gannon, principal at Hockinson Middle School. “The program started on Monday, January 30, and is being supported by student volunteers.”

The composting program at HMS will divert several thousands of pounds from the landfill each year. At Hockinson Heights Elementary School, students sort cafeteria waste using the same sorting system that was recently implemented at HMS. Data from a cafeteria waste audit in November 2022 revealed that HHES diverts an average of 80 pounds per day, or over 14,000 pounds per year, of food scraps from the landfill. With the new implementation of the cafeteria composting and recycling program at Hockinson Middle School, our students are making a real difference in waste reduction.

Students use composting and recycling tables at school.

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