In celebration of Earth Day 2018, the students and faculty at Montclair Kimberley Academy (MKA), are focusing on programs that help reduce waste in meaningful ways and connecting with service learning initiatives throughout the three campuses. From food waste audits and partnerships with local organizations like Table to Table and Toni’s Kitchen to recycling activities, MKA is continuing to make earth friendly practices and sustainability a priority. In fact, these initiatives are actually part of a bigger program that the school has implemented for the 2018 school year.
Food Waste and Composting
At the Middle School campus, students will be starting a school wide composting program. Over the next few weeks, participating students will be conducting a waste audit to determine what food waste the school is producing and looking at ways to help eliminate this waste. As part of this program, the school is working with ButterBeans, their food service provider, to reduce food waste. On a monthly basis, food from the Middle School campus is being donated Table to Table and Toni’s Kitchen in Montclair.
Additionally, MKA’s 8th graders are participating in a service learning project that is tailored around food inequity. Through research and guided activities during advisor periods, students are learning more about food deserts and the repercussions of food imbalance. The students met with a representative from the organization, Table to Table to learn how this organization works with local schools, restaurants, supermarkets, and other food vendors to collect prepared foods that would otherwise be discarded and delivered to local organizations in the area who serve the hungry. After much brainstorming, students decided to make over 200 sandwiches for Table to Table, which were then distributed to local shelters and soup kitchens. Students are also raising money for Table to Table during their student run 5k race in May.
Paper and Plastic Recycling
In addition to the programs at the Middle School Campus, fourth graders are spearheading a paper recycling program for their campus. Students are on all three campuses are continuing their mixed paper and bottle and can recycling programs and earlier this year, the Middle and Primary Schools participated in the Crayola Color cycle program. They collected and recycled markers of all brand types and sent over 20 pounds of makers to be recycled. In the next few months, the Middle School and Upper School campuses plan to participate in the Green School Alliance Green Cup Recycling challenge where they will compete with schools around the country to try to improve their recycling rates.
In addition to paper recycling, the Primary School students are proud to bring reusable water bottles to school each day, eliminating plastic water bottles on campus and Middle School students held a reusable water bottle challenge and will be conducting a waste audit during their lunch period in the next few weeks.
MKA’s Green Roof Offers a Unique Learning Experience for All
Finally, students will have the opportunity to learn more about sustainability and growing their own food. The Middle School 5th grade and Green Group students are growing fruits and vegetables in garden boxes on their campus. A student run Green House & Green Roof Club is growing vegetables on the Green Roof, a unique space created to give students and faculty a unique learning environment. The Green Roof was debuted in honor of Earth Day 2017 and continues to be a major part of MKA’s dedication to earth friendly practices.
MKA Students and Teachers Advocate for Sustainability and Climate Change
Outside of school, MKA’s students and teachers, alike, are advocating for a change when it comes to sustainability and our climate. Two of MKA’s students will be presenting their composting project at the Student Climate Leadership Conference held at Princeton Day School next month. And Ben Rich, MKA’s Upper School Science Teacher & Upper School Sustainability Coordinator, has set up Northern NJ’s chapter of OASIS, a group of teachers from throughout the area that meet to learn from each other how we can foster sustainable actions within our schools.
“At MKA, we are continually finding new ways to embrace earth friendly programs and activities,” said Laura Zimmerman, Middle School Sustainability Coordinator. “We are excited to take part in these activities to celebrate Earth Day, but we make it a priority to instill the importance of sustainability, recycling and much more, all year-round.”