Cooking up Change Goes Waste-Free!

October 22, 2008

 by Claris Olson, HSC Environmental Health Manager

For the first time, I am pleased to announce that Healthy Schools Campaign’s annual fund raiser Cooking up Change is going waste-free!

We'll be joining the ranks of organizations including the U.S. Green Building Council and Seven Generations Ahead in making our event waste-free. Waste minimization, elimination and recycling are easy when you are talking about bottles, cans and paper.  The biggest challenge in holding a waste-free event is what to do with things such as food waste, tableware and trash can liners.

Here are three strategies we’ve chosen  to go waste-free:

1)      Donating untouched food waste: Fortunately, at Healthy Schools Campaign we rarely have any leftover food — since it is sooo good, and we have so many deserving staff and volunteers ready to take this nutritious, delicious food home to their families and friends.  In the event that there is any untouched food, we will be working with a local organization to donate the food so it is not wasted.

2)    Using bio-based tableware: We will be using tableware made from grown or recovered plant fibers including corn, sugar cane, bamboo or rice.

3)      Composting: Using bio-based products alone is better than using petroleum-based products, but if they are not composted they will essentially not break down in a conventional landfill. Thanks to the Resource Center of Chicago, our food scraps and food service items — including compostable trash can liners — will be hauled to a permitted  composting facility and turned into a nutrient-rich soil.

With growing interest in composting from schools and businesses due to the rising cost of waste disposal, we hope to be piloting off-site food composting at several Chicago schools as more facilities become permitted to handle food waste.  Food waste makes up the largest component of a school’s waste stream, so finding an environmentally responsible means to offset waste disposal costs just makes sense.