Members of the PHS Green Team – back row from left, Emma Grapentine, Jamie Schultz, Skyler Gosse; front row, Maddie Werner, Brooklin Willoughby, Taylor Heyrman and Myah Palechek – built a compost bin to reduce school waste.

PHS Green Team to launch compost program

Posted February 27, 2017

The Plymouth High School Green Team recently constructed a compost bin to reduce waste from paper towels and cafeteria food.

“Carbon-based paper towels and nitrogen-based cafeteria food waste will be placed in the bin to be turned into compost for use in school and community gardens,” said PHS science teacher Tina Henriksen, who advises the group with head custodian Bob Mueller.

The team constructed the compost bin in February, purchasing materials using donations from The Plymouth Education Foundation, Masters Gallery Foods and Thrivent Financial. A pilot collection program will occur this spring, and hopefully collection and composting will be in full swing for the 2017-18 school year.

“Our whole goal is to lower the impact of what we’re putting in landfills,” Mr. Miller told the Board of Education during a presentation about the Green Team in February.

Mrs. Henriksen encouraged all district schools to participate in the composting effort, which eventually is expected to involve three bins in rotation. “The waste stream of any school can consist of as much as 25 percent food waste,” she said. “Most of this ends up in landfills never to be used as a source of nutrition.” 

She noted that Americans throw away 40 percent of the food that they purchase each year – about 6 billion tons each month.  About 25 percent of the freshwater Americans consume is used to produce (grow and wash) this wasted food. 

The Green Team also is preparing a presentation on recycling to share with district third-graders in March, including having 175 copies of a booklet about landfills printed. Team members have been rehearsing their script, and have arranged for a garbage truck to visit elementary schools in conjunction with the presentation.