Enchanted Lake Elementary School (ELES)

Responsive Teachers, Service Learning Goals
Student enrollment, Preschool-6: 420

Start: August 2018
• Total 2018 food waste recovered: 16,290 lbs. (8.1 tons) One semester only.

An Enchanted Lake mom who maintains a Zero Waste household made an impassioned plea to bring Resource Recovery to ELES – she was horrified by the volume of food waste. After our food waste audit in May, we were horrified, too! Although smaller than Kainalu Elementary, there is a higher percentage of students who participate in the Federal School Lunch Program, the source of tons of unwanted food.

To ready our 4th Zero Waste School campus, over the summer we cleared and prepped a large composting area on an unused part of the campus, installed plumbing and hose bibs, acquired a small container and all the necessary lunchroom and composting equipment, accumulated several truckloads of mulch, and posted informational posters and data boards where we log our daily compost numbers.

High Volume Meets Efficiency
Although the volume of food and milk waste every day is truly staggering – often well over 200 pounds a day – the resource recovery operation at ELES is extremely efficient. The lunchroom is straightforward, simple and well-organized; the assistance from staff is exemplary. The burgeoning compost array will likely top twenty-five 1,000-pound piles by the end of the school year. Harvesting will commence in October of 2019 and ELES will receive their first check from compost sales in January of 2020. We are off to a very strong start.

Resource Recovery Education
What impressed us most about Enchanted Lake was the immediate expression of enthusiastic interest from teachers. Within only a couple of weeks they had scheduled every single class to visit Ms. Christy out at the compost piles where students got a goopy, squeal-evoking demo, a quick lesson on decomposition, and a chance to ask questions. We’ve been invited to give presentations at all-school assemblies, and were bestowed a full page in the monthly newsletter to parents.

Halfway through the year, the teachers were requesting Resource Recovery service learning activities for all grade levels. When the compost harvesting operation kicks off in 2019, all 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students will be trained and recruited to help with harvesting – always fun, a great hands-on learning experience, and a chance to work as a team. We will propose that the lower grades work with Sort-It-Out Sam and set up and maintain classroom worm bins for preschool and kindergarten.

We are eager to try out some new ideas, and feel so privileged – there’s a genuine love of learning at Enchanted Lake and a culture of appreciation that makes a molehill out of the mountain of waste we confront every day at this very special school.