Inspired by the extra bin – composting isn’t just for the kitchen anymore.
Last year I was thrilled to find a restroom bin that said “Paper Towels Only – Compost”. I’m happy to report that I’ve since found two additional fine examples, one a school and the other a church, promoting the responsible disposition of a common and frequently used item: the bathroom paper towel.
Although careful to not use more than they need, Bellwether School, a preschool and elementary school, goes through a lot of paper towels. Kids wash their hands upon arrival, before snacks and lunch, and of course, after using the bathroom. This turns out to be about 7 paper towels per day per child. You can do the rough math and realize the quantity required for the school year.
Bellwether takes seriously its responsibility towards the careful use of resources, and so at this school you’ll find two bins, one for compost and one for trash, in each bathroom. Students and staff have adopted the practice of composting their paper towels as part of their daily routine, but the unsuspecting visitors have less success. It takes a bit of a cultural shift at every level to make this happen, and Bellwether doesn’t shy away from taking the lead.
The school also composts food and other compostables from lunches brought from home. Recyclables are recycled at school, but lunch trash (string cheese wrappers, etc) go back home with the kids. I applaud this practice as it encourages us all to be responsible for our own trash and serves as a reminder that there really is no such thing as “away”, as in where we throw stuff.
The First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington also takes composting seriously. Notice they have a big compost can and a little trash can (just the way it should be in my opinion) in their bathrooms under the paper towels. According to David, the facilities manager, compliance in the bathrooms has been quite good since there isn’t much other trash there typically. A few more mishaps occur at coffee hour. Although compostable food service items are exclusively used, a few end up in the regular trash each Sunday. Old habits are hard to break.
In addition to the enriching experiences that my family has had at both institutions, I love that I can go there and wash and dry my hands without guilt. What truly inspires me, though, is the people behind efforts like these. They have the vision and foresight to realize the direction in which we collectively need to go and have boldly implemented those changes. They are the change we wish to see.
This entry was posted on Monday, January 31st, 2011 at 3:39 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.