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When food waste goes to the landfill, it is often a case of “out of sight, out of mind.” But Christ Church Episcopal School senior Rhett Adams led a movement to redirect much of her school’s waste to the compost bin instead. It is having an immediate impact on waste, and she hopes it will shape the mindset of younger students as well.

“I was in a science class last year and we were learning about the amount of food that goes into landfills,” she said. “I went down to the lunchroom and saw the trashcan.”

It spurred Adams to look for a way to divert food waste to composting. She got help from science teacher Amanda Beckrich in setting up a meeting with the administration.

“I made a PowerPoint and called multiple companies to find out how much it would cost,” Adams said.

The school now composts through Atlas Organics, a commercial and residential compost collection company that recycles food waste, turning it into a valuable soil amendment to promote sustainable agriculture and landscaping.

“We rolled it out halfway through the year,” Adams said. “It was implemented in January. I found out that a ton of things can be turned into compost.”

Before the program started, Adams surveyed the student body. She found that 85 percent said would be willing to compost, but it has been a learning process for all involved.

“When it was first rolled out, there was definitely some confusion about what to do,” she said. “It has been really successful, especially in the lower school. The little kids are really excited about it. As they come up, it’s going to be so second nature to them.

Adams, who is still working on her college decision, is planning to study environmental science. The impact at Christ Church Episcopal School goes beyond changing the path for food waste. Compost from Atlas Organics is now being used in the school garden, completing a cycle that will carry on long after Adams’ graduation.

Out of this project, Adams has a new appreciation for what young people can do to implement change. She encourages students to use their voices for what they believe.

“A student has a much larger ability than anyone else to make a change in the school,” she said. “Faculty and teachers are willing and excited to listen.”

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