Composting all the rage at Summit County elementary schools |

Composting all the rage at Summit County elementary schools

summit daily news

SUMMIT COUNTY – Some of Summit County’s smallest citizens are making a big impact when it comes to reducing waste.

Students at Summit Cove, Breckenridge, Upper Blue and Dillon Valley elementary schools are turning their scraps into soil through a lunch-room composting program. The schools have also eliminated plastic utensils, opting instead for washable trays and metal flatware. The program has been phased in at the various schools over the course of this school year, with hopes of incorporating Silverthorne and Frisco elementary students before students leave for the summer.

Each school’s Green Team, an environmental club that meets after school, helps to spread the word and educate its peers about the particulars of which items go into which bins to maximize waste diversion and minimize contamination.

On Friday, the Upper Blue Green Team performed a skit – complete with a compost fairy – at an all-school assembly, offering instructions on identifying recyclable bottles and emphasizing the importance of throwing strawberry stems and banana peels into the compost bin.

“I really don’t like all the trash in the landfill,” said 9-year-old Heidi Anderson, who performed one of the skit’s lead roles. “A lot of it can be composted and become soil.”

Some students stand sentry at the bins during their lunch periods, helping their classmates with the sorting process.

“Sometimes when somebody puts a fork in the compost, we just reach in and grab it!” said passionate Green Team member Nathan Simpkins, an Upper Blue first-grader.

According to High Country Conservation Center director Jennifer Santry, the schools have the potential to divert 85-90 percent of their waste from local landfills, with recycling and composting in full swing. Santry and her staff work in partnership with the schools, High Country Composting and Summit County government’s recycling program to get the programs up and running.

“The kids are so great,” Santry said. “It becomes a habit for them so quickly.”

The systems include color-coded bins – blue for recycling, gray for trash, green for composting – so that students won’t miss a beat (or an apple core) if they change schools.

“Sometimes we make mistakes, but we always do the best we can,” Heidi said.

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or

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