Riverside students have had a reputation for working towards various causes, and helping out the community. In this case, there is a group of students who want to help out with environmental sustainability. Grade 12 student Riley McDonnell has lead the charge with a group of students to bring an organic waste removal system to Riverside. The system is intended to provide a separation between food thrown away and actual garbage. With the help of Mr. Brian Chan and the school staff, this system could very well be installed within the first two weeks back from winter break.

The students are taking full responsibility for the system and are constantly trying to find help to get it going. “We originally had to spend our own money to get the bins, but we ended up getting funding from the PAC (Parent Advisory Council)” said McDonnell. “This is totally a student-run composting system; the janitors won’t be throwing out the bins, we (students) have to take responsibility for throwing out what’s inside every day and washing the bins once a week.” With the students doing the physical work, they also needed someone on the staff or admin who would help them.

These bags represent food waste from one day in the school.

Chan, who is a Geology 12 teacher, played an important role in convincing the staff inside the school that Riverside needed one. “Last year as we started talking about waste management and students started to ask me why there wasn’t a composting system, and I didn’t really have an answer for them,” said Mr. Chan. “So I presented the idea to Mr. [Anthony] Ciolfitto and he said that the only concern was that there wasn’t anybody to help out to take out and clean out the bins”.

The whole idea of having composting bins was actually implemented three, four years ago when bins were installed in the Cafeteria and the Home Ec room. “The idea of only having two composting bins wasn’t really enough for me,” said Principal Mr. Ciolfitto. “We (Riverside staff) knew that we wanted more composting bins, so when I was approached (Mr. Chan) and I was on board with the idea, the only thing we really needed was someone to take the bins out”.

The blue bins seem to be a success at Riverside as people are recycling regularly. Riverside staff and students hope that the composting bins are the same as they will be installed very soon.