Schools create sustainable models for communities, businesses

Published On: Jun 19 2013 08:15:47 PM HST

Squiggling and squirming, the well-fed worms at Waikiki Elementary are enriching young minds too.

"We've got some lettuce and banana peels and other things from our lunch in our compost bin. We end up getting this rich soil and stuff that we'll use on our plants," said eight year old Kalae Millikan.

The kids are recycling a half a ton of food a week, which is feeding the plants that fill their tummies, and becoming a model for a growing movement.

"I've seen them give tours around school and actually teach adults and I'm like 'yes!'" said Breanna Rose, with the Green House Sustainable Learning Center.

"We would really like to see the schools go zero waste, because we know we've been harboring wonderful resources they call waste on their campus," said Mindy Jaffe, former lawmaker and founder of The Worm Company.

"I believe they composted about 270 pounds of food every week," said Josh Prigge, Hawaii Pacific University's sustainability coordinator.

The average college student wastes about a pound of food every day.

HPU, the University of Hawaii and Kapiolani Community College are among the schools joining the Environmental Protection Agency's National Food Recycling Challenge, already armed with years of experience.

"So we have to make it a win-win situation for everyone," said KCC Culinary Dept. Chair Ron Takahashi.

He is leading generations of students creating sustainable models for businesses.

"We tried to explain to our students everything you threw into the dumpster you paid for. It didn't come free," he said.

And over at UH, student-driven efforts are paying off in a number of ways.

"So, we're turning waste that our school usually pays to get rid of and turning it into something that's beneficial for landscaping for farms for everything," said John Montoya, SOFT Student Farm manager.

"It's kinda gross, but it's fun at the same time," said Millikan.


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