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District 191 schools will compete to reduce waste, save money

Students and staff members in fifteen buildings will compete to see who can reduce their food waste the most during the second annual Battle of the Buildings competition in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 from Feb. 2 to March 13.

Student members of the Hidden Valley Green Team (from left) Tessa Clausen, Kara Klavins, Joltzin Flores and Jenna Huseby sort through waste during lunch.

In 2014, the challenge was to reduce electricity use by turning out lights, unplugging appliances not in use, and setting building temperatures a little lower. Sioux Trail Elementary in Burnsville won the competition by reducing their energy usage by 29.1%, and saving money while also conserving natural resources.

This year, the challenge is based on recycling and composting. An important goal is to save more money, but also to preserve the environment. Through their involvement, students are learning the science of sorting and composting and being good stewards of the earth.

There are three different challenges and three ways to win:

  • Best Sorting Overall - Building with the best sorters who put the most items in the correct bins at lunch.

  • Most Improved Sorting - Building with the highest improvement in correct sorting

  • Least Food Waste (per student) - Building with the least food waste per student.

Schools began composting in recent years and have already made progress. Through better waste management, District 191 has reduced costs by more than $1,500 per month, or about $13,500 per year that can be spent on educating students instead of hauling garbage.

But there is still room for improvement. If every school correctly sorted all of its waste, the items that can’t be composted or recycled (wrappers, plastic baggies, etc.) from the lunchroom would amount to less than 100 pounds per day across the entire district.

During the challenge, high school students will be sorting waste to measure how well each building is doing and to learn more about conservation and waste reduction. Elementary students at some school will be conducting their own weekly sorts as well to measure progress.

The winning building will receive a tree of its choice to plant on school grounds.

Posted: Tuesday, February 3, 2015 - 13:06