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Lakeridge mom leads school composting

Student volunteers direct diners as to where to put food scraps for composting after lunch at Lakeridge Elementary School. - Contributed photo
Student volunteers direct diners as to where to put food scraps for composting after lunch at Lakeridge Elementary School.
— image credit: Contributed photo

When Nancy Weil found out that Lakeridge Elementary did not have a composting program, she decided to do something about it.

Her oldest daughter, Alex, 6, would not be a student at Lakeridge until fall 2010. But Weil wanted to start getting involved in her daughter’s future school early. So she got permission from principal Fred Rundle to start the Zero-Waste Committee, comprised of five members. Now, Lakeridge has reduced 700 pounds of trash each week to 80 pounds per week.

“Our goal was by half, and we reduced it by 75 percent. We’re educating families and students at the same time, and they’re learning. These kids will go out into the world and make a real difference,” she said.

Parenting Magazine will feature Weil as the Mom of the Month for June in recognition of her efforts.

Ever since watching Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and reading a New York Times article about overflowing landfills four years ago, Weil has had a passion for greener living. She started out by changing 40 light bulbs in her house and buying a hybrid car. But that wasn’t enough, she said. She wanted to make a greater difference, so she started a composting program through the Sustainability Committee at her children’s school, the Stroum JCC, before doing the same at Lakeridge. The program saves the SJCC $300 each month, Weil said.

“It’s a great feeling to know the 200 families at the SJCC and 500 kids at Lakeridge will get this,” she said.

At Lakeridge the program includes a waste-free lunch initiative — packing lunches in reusable containers and buying items in bulk to eliminate excess wrappers and packaging — and bins for liquids, recycling, composting and trash in the cafeteria. During lunch, Recycling Club student volunteers help clean up and oversee the proper disposal of items. The cafeteria has also replaced its plastic utensils with silverware.

Lakeridge principal Fred Rundle said he is proud of the collaboration between parents, teachers and students for the program.

“I’m proud of the fact that we’re making a positive contribution to our larger community,” he said. “We measured the trash before and after, and we consistently come in at 75 percent less trash each day in our lunch room than we had before. That’s based on weight; we’re taking out the liquids and then composting what we can, recycling what we can, and throwing away the rest, which whether or not it’s economic, it’s a great message and great responsibility.”

Lakeridge is a level one green certified school through the King County Green Schools Program, along with Island Park Elementary and Islander Middle School.

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