HomeThe CSWD BlogGeneral TopicsReintroducing the cafeteria sort station at Hinesburg Community School

Reintroducing the cafeteria sort station at Hinesburg Community School

Did you know that over 50% of what we throw ‘away’ is made of recyclable materials? The staff and students at Hinesburg Community School are well aware—and that’s why they’re kicking off 2016 by teaming up with CSWD to re-introduce their cafeteria sort station. Sort stations help divert materials from the landfill and can save money and resources as well.

After meeting with supportive and enthusiastic custodial and kitchen staff, a parent, and Allegra Miller, the K-4 principal, we developed an amazerful (amazing + wonderful) plan to pump up the students and staff about composting and recycling.

Before Holiday Break

Just like many schools, HCS has a tight budget belt but that didn’t stop them from testing out how many paper towels they could put into their three compost carts while still collecting food scraps in the kitchen and cafeteria. Tim Peet, the cool custodial supervisor, started by hanging signage up in bathrooms to tell people exactly what to do with the paper towels, and what to do with everything else.

Hinesburg Community School bathroom signHinesburg Community School bathroom signThen he measured the amount of paper towels collected each day (5 cubic feet) to conclude that they would need to add more compost carts to accommodate the paper towels used each week. Unfortunately, adding carts would increase their pick-up service fees and with no wiggle room in their budget, that just wasn’t an option. Have no fear! Tim didn’t get discouraged. He decided that HCS would gather as many paper towels as they could for compost collection because every little bit counts! Hinesburg Community School is currently diverting 64 gallons of paper towels (packed tight) from the landfill each week, all with clear signs and a committed custodial staff.

After Break

After the well rested students (and staff) returned from holiday break, the elementary students were treated to a sort station refresher program delivered by yours truly: Recycle Rhonda. We had a blast in the cafeteria learning why sorting unwanted materials correctly is important; and what kind of stuff goes in which bin. Deb Bissonette’s crew of exceptional kitchen staff (Deb included) were a huge help with new ideas and flexible with allowing me to invade their space for a few days. I must say, even before the refresher, HCS did a darn good job of separating their unwanted materials correctly. We all need a refresher course every now and again, though, and these sharp-shinned students aren’t any different!

Every elementary grade level learned how much ‘trash’ we Vermonters (on average) make per person per day (3.5 pounds if you didn’t know) and why it is important to make sure what hits the landfill-bound trash can is truly trash and not something we could reuse or recycle. Boy, did the kids bring their A-game. During the ‘what goes where’ game, I was informed that the baggie I was going to throw in the trash could in fact be reused (this happened at nearly all of the grade levels) and that I needed to ‘rinse and recycle’ my dirty yogurt cups. Way to school Recycle Rhonda, HCS!

I truly enjoyed my three days at Hinesburg Community School and I am looking forward to popping in for a lunchtime visit with my new found friends (young and older). Keep up the superb work HCS; you are making a difference!

Hinesburg Community School cafeteria


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Rhonda Mace
Rhonda Mace
School Outreach Coordinator at CSWD
When she's not setting up a worm composting farm or conducting a waste audit, Rhonda likes to hike and observe nature (she really digs bugs), ride her bike (preferably on the bike path) and cook with locally grown (mostly from her garden) foods. You can reach her at 802-872-8100 x211.