Nashoba Brooks School Leads Environmental Change with Composting

At Nashoba Brooks School, Grade 3 students spearheaded an effort to lower the School’s environmental impact: composting at lunch.
The idea originated when Science Teacher Kelly Western and School Chef Sean-Michael Tantinarawat recognized an opportunity to decrease food waste. And what better way to do so than by teaching students why and how to lead the charge and initiate the change they want to achieve? 

“Food in landfills creates methane gas, which contributes to global warming,” explained Western, who conducted experiments with students in class, so that they could see decomposition in action. By adding apples, paper, and yogurt containers to soil, Nashoba Brooks students observed the breakdown of various types of waste as temperatures rose. They learned how the waste humans generate impacts climate change. 

Armed with this knowledge, third graders—who have traditionally served as the School’s Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle Ambassadors—made a series of videos about composting to share at assemblies with the larger Nashoba Brooks community. Alongside teacher volunteers, they stood by the new lunch composting bins to help peers and employees sort their lunch waste. 

Since sorting can be confusing, these volunteer guides, along with posted signs, continue to help sorters through the process as they learn what can and can not be composted. (All organic matter? Yes! Waxed paper cups? No.) After the lunch waste is collected, exactly where does it go? Well, twice per week, the Black Earth Compost company (whose tagline is Compost, Grow, Eat...Repeat) picks it up and turns it into nutrient rich compost for backyard gardens and local farms. 

“It’s curb-side composting!” says Western enthusiastically, who notes that the entire process has positively impacted School culture. “The students and employees are now more aware,” Western believes. “They are thinking about where our waste goes and how we can continue to cut back.” In the future, Western hopes to compost at all School events, and with the help of students, to make Nashoba Brooks School a zero-waste school.  

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Nashoba Brooks School is a coed Lower School from Preschool to Grade 3 and an all-girls Middle School from Grades 4 to 8 located in Concord, Massachussetts.