Smoke Signals: Students and staffers deserve kudos for composting collections

by Tim Troglen | reporter Published:

Hudson -- Environmental education and awareness has changed in the last 40 years. The 1970s educational recycling tool was a man dressed like an American Indian shedding a lone tear as fast food trash lands at his moccasined feet.

That's how I learned about environmental education.

Recycling was not taught in schools, nor were the potential consequences of littering, carbon footprints and overall pollution.

That has changed.

Today's students are taught the repercussions of a polluted planet and shown ways to help alleviate the footprint left behind as well as the refuse being taken to landfills.

I was impressed recently when I learned about the efforts being undertaken by Hudson City School students to save the planet.

One of the programs which impressed me was composting. Four schools are taking part in the program in conjunction with ReWorks, formerly the Summit/Akron Solid Waste Management Authority. After lunch, students place their leftovers into containers picked up by ReWorks and taken to a resource recycling facility in Cuyahoga County. The scraps are windrowed, or dried and mixed with other materials for a variety of uses.

"Our mission is to divert food waste from landfills, Yolanda Walker, executive director of ReWorks said. "It takes about 90 days for the materials to go from food scraps to the compost they sell."

Since the program began in 2011, with Hudson Middle School leading the way, the district has prevented 327,336 pounds, or more than 166,000 tons, of refuse from being placed in landfills.

Students, staff and district volunteers should be commended for this.

And while the program is "cost neutral" to the district, ReWorks has spent more than $21,000 to fund the program since 2011, according to Walker.

To date, East Woods Elementary School students have prevented 18,591 pounds of refuse from being placed in landfills since joining the program in August, according to Walker. Ellsworth Hill, which joined in February of 2012, has prevented 55,876 pounds from the landfills.

Hudson Middle School, which joined the program in September of 2011, has prevented 152,036 pounds of refuse from being placed in landfills. The high school, which joined in August of 2012, has saved 100,833 pounds of refuse from being placed in landfills.

Hudson Middle School's program was started by former principal Chuck DiLauro and continues under his successor, Kimberly Cockley.

"Hudson Middle School is a phenomenal school in so many ways, and one of these is in our initiative toward environmental stewardship," Cockley said. "We have multiple opportunities for students and staff to dispose of items responsibly and to reduce our waste: composting, paper recycling, washable trays, aluminum/plastics/glass recycling, and a soon-to-be implemented ink cartridge and electronics recycling program started by students in our 4KIDS program."

The larger student population at the middle school makes for a " significant impact," Cockley said.

"We are proud of our students for their care for the earth," Cockley added.

I agree with Mrs. Cockley.

I'm sure that it's too late for my generation and the ones which came before to see the benefits of the current program.

We've squandered a lot of our chances.

But maybe one day my nieces or nephews will reap the benefits of the Hudson students' efforts and enjoy a cleaner Mother Earth.

I hope so.

Keep up the good work students, learn and build on the environmental lessons being taught. Staffers, thanks for making this part of a larger world-wide classroom.

You may not know it, but each one of you is following the teachings of an American Indian proverb. The proverb has been attributed to Chief Seattle of a pacific northwest tribe, the Suquamish tribe.

"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children," Chief Seattle is credited with saying.

And while I don't have children, allow me, on behalf of my nieces, nephews and their children, to say thank you.

Take care of their property.

Email: ttroglen@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9435

Twitter: @Trog_RPC

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