Laurel Elementary is teaching students to be smart about what they throw away after lunch.
“As it is now, it pretty much runs itself. They just know what to do,” said Tim Johnson, Laurel Elementary Head Custodian.
Johnson is referring to their green recycling program or how they like to call themselves “The Green Team.” It began last year with an idea, Johnson says, came from the students.
“We had some students that were noticing boy we’re throwing away a lot because they noticed how often I’d have to empty the garbage from every lunch and we had a lot of waste. And so one day we spread it all out on some giant blue mats and we took a visual of how much waste we had,” Johnson said.
Johnson says they realized there was a lot of food they were throwing away that could be recycled. The school worked with their local recycler to develop a better system.
“Any kind of a food product, from the leftover hamburger to the pineapple rhind that’s left, the hogs will take any of that,” Johnson said.
All of the recycled food becomes feed for pigs owned by local farmers and school employees. Students also recycle their milk cartons, reducing the school’s waste by a third.
“I have yet to hear a kiddo complain about it. They all seem very enthusiastic. Again, because I think they’re connected to something that they see as important, and I think that keeps them very positive about it,” said Bill Bechen, Laurel Elementary Principal.