R’s ‘R Us

When I wrote about the 3 R’s last week, I guess I missed the fourth one: Rot.

Elementary schools in one district in Minnesota are teaching about that forgotten fourth by having students separate and compost lunch room waste.

photo by christopher.woo via Creative CommonsSure, ‘Recycle,’ the third R, covers composting in some definitions. But “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot” is a catchy way to get students interested in composting. As is having live, composting worms in the classroom.

The program seems to be getting kids to separate their food waste. And when they miscategorize something, the class Rot Ranger lets them know. No word yet on whether they wear masks.

The article summarizing the program has an interesting take on the changing rationale for composting:

A few years back, the answer would have simply been to reduce waste going to landfills. In the last two years, however…”We realize that there’s a sustainable aspect,” Trdan said…Properly managed composting can put out fewer harmful gas emissions and help “close the loop” by churning out a soil ingredient to grow the healthy food of the future.

In addition to boosting composting participation, I hope the program and others like it emphasize the first R, too. Otherwise, they ‘R’ missing out on a real opportunity to reduce food waste.

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