Huakailani School kicks food waste out of landfills | Community Spirit
Information provided by: Huakailani School
First they kicked cigarette butts off of Hekili Street Kailua Town through
their innovative and whimsical “Plant Your Butts Here” campaign and now
they have kicked food waste out of the landfill.
Funded by a grant from Youth Service of Hawaii in 2010, the Huakailani girls
actively worked to find a solution reducing the large amount of cigarette
butt litter found on their quarterly Adopt -A Block Neighborhood Clean-Up
Since the start of their campaign, the Huakailani girls have decorated over
30 whimsical planters filled with sand to encourage people to extinguish
their cigarette in the planters and not on the ground. Cigarette butt litter
leaches toxins into the water sources and endangers the health of native
wildlife. Did you know that 50% of aquatic life would die in a gallon of
water that only has 2-3 cigarette butts.
In the past 2 years they have removed over 5,000 cigarette butts from Hekili
Street. The campaign has reduced the number of cigarette butt found littering
the street by 50%.
Now the Huakailani Girls are at it again to solve another community problem,
food waste. The school actively recycles plastic, paper and glass and
composts organic food waste in the school’s worm compost but the students
noticed that there still was a lot of “trash” in the trash can which
mostly consisted of food waste.
Daily food waste in the trash cans lead to wasting large plastic trash bags
too because the trash has to be taken out every day regardless of whether it
is completely full or not, due to food waste that would become odorous if not
Inspired by learning about anaerobic composting at a Service Learning
Workshop last school year, the girls drew up a plan to become the first
“Food Waste Free School” on the island. They put their plan into action
by seeking another grant from Youth Service Hawaii; this time to become food
waste free at Huakailani.
After writing up an excellent plan and articulately presenting it to the
Youth Service Hawaii Board, their new “Compost Bar” project was funded.
Since then the girls have made their own “Bokashi” to use for food
waste, composting anaerobically (without air). Composting with Bokashi allows
food such as meats, cheese, pasta, etc. that cannot be put in a regular,
aerobic compost bin to be composted virtually without any smell. The school
Bokashi Bin is actually right in the school lunch area.
According to a 2011 Global Food Waste and Food Loss report, approximately
200 pounds of food per person is wasted each year in North America. The girls
learned that even a small school like Huakailani with only 35 students, they
each produced an average of 2 ounces of food waste every week just during
snack and lunch. It may not seem like a lot but 5 pounds of food a week
equals to 200 pounds of food waste in a year, which is only half of what an
average person in the United States produces in food waste each annually (520
By setting up compost bars in the lunchroom and classrooms, the Huakailani
students now sort their lunch and snack food wastes. One bin is for organic
composting and everything else goes into the Bokashi Composting bin, leaving
the school 100% food waste free. Recyclable plastics are recycled and
families are encouraged to use reusable containers for snacks and lunch
instead of plastic bags.
Not only has this been an environmentally friendly project for the girls to
take on, it has been a very educational project, where the girls apply math,
critical thinking , science skills and problem solving skills too! The girls
are proud to have made their school the first "First Food Waste Free School"
The compost is used to make enrich the soil that they school uses in their
urban garden. Even though the school is located in the middle of Kailua Town,
the girls have proved that you don’t need a lot of space to grow food.
So in the end, the girls are growing food with recycled food! It has been a
win-win for the girls and the planet. Please contact the school if you are
interested in a tour of the composting operations and or would like to attend
a Bokashi Making Workshop.
The goal now is to spread the word about Bokashi and encourage other schools
and homes to join in and become food waste free too. They will be at the
Service Learning Showcase on the Mall At Windward Mall on March 31 from 10am
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