Sustainability at School

The Solana Center for Environmental Innovation recently partnered with Monterey Ridge Elementary School in 4S Ranch to help expand the school’s sustainability programs. The Solana Center installed a vermicomposting – composting with worms – bin for the school’s garden. Fruit and vegetable waste from school lunches can be composted in the new bin, providing a hands-on learning opportunity for students. The Worms are the Way program was funded by the 4S Ranch-Del Sur Community Foundation.

Solana Center also worked with MRES staff to develop lunch waste sorting stations: landfill, food waste, recycling, and lunch trays. The center gave presentations to educate students about the new efforts in sustainability at their school, covering the four R’s – reuse, reduce, recycle, and rot – as well as the new vermicomposting bin and the sorting stations. “Students gained an understanding of the advantages of worm composting and its value in growing food, and learned that food waste does not need to be placed in the trash,” said Diane Hazard, Solana Center’s Education Program Manager. The presentations were given through five grade-specific assemblies, and the center also spent two days monitoring lunchtime waste sorting.

Waste audits before and after the educational effort showed first the school’s potential for diverting waste to recycling and compost instead of landfills, and then the school’s success at achieving those goals. Before the program’s implementation, all lunch waste was heading to the landfill. Six weeks after the educational effort, students were successfully diverting about 50 percent of lunch waste by volume.
Learn more about the Solana Center and its efforts towards grassroots environmental action at