Senior girl leaves footprint on disposal system


Photo Credit: Sophie Ferreri

In the first week of May, the compost bin was finally put in the cafeteria for students to use during lunch. Environmental students sat near the compost bin to encourage and remind students they now have the option to compost.

by Sophie Ferreri, Senior Staff Writer

Senior girl’s passion driven compost project for the cafeteria finally became tangible after months of hard work on May 1. Next to the trash can and the recycle bin, students finally had the option to throw away their lunch in the compost bin.

Erica Jones’s passion to preserve the environment didn’t sprout from thin air; it was inherited from her highly environmentally conscious parents and her influencing older sister, Lara. Lara had the idea to compost at the high school several years ago and made the first step by changing all cafeteria trays to be compostable. For Jones’s senior year, she wanted to further her sister’s progress in turning this school green.

Jones didn’t want the compostable trays to go to waste so she did research on how to incorporate actual composting in the school cafeteria. She found that she would need funding to start the project, but didn’t know whom to ask. Jones’s research appointed her to the Sustainably Jersey for School organization, which focuses on promoting sustainable practices in schools in New Jersey and provides grants to support special causes. To receive their support Jones had to apply. The application required research to make a proposed budget for the $2,000 grant, a detailed plan for what she would do with the funding, and support and approval from of Dr. Valenti, Mr. Arlotta, the cafeteria, and the custodial staff.

“I thought it was another great imitative spearheaded by Erica.  Erica has been passionate about the environment while at GRHS,” Arlotta said. Arlotta’s role was as a liaison for support and to help with logistics

Jones’s plan was fully backed by everyone needed in the implementing process. Her previous instrumental voice in bringing filling stations to the middle school and high school in an effort to minimize the use of plastic water bottles won the hearts of everyone involved and provided evidence she would be fully dedicated in the project.

Jones had contacted the Community Compost Company to incorporate them into her plan for the grant. She chose Community Compost Company because they work in our area and productively use the compost to fertilize Hudson Valley Farms. Erica was won over by the company because of its urgency to bring the compost from the schools, businesses, etc. directly to the farms.

I’m always impressed by Erica because she leads by example and uses her passions for the benefit of others.”

— Arlotta

Once Jones received the grant she officially hired the Community Compost Company to collect the composted from our school. She couldn’t have been more ecstatic to see the elements of her plan falling into place.

“It was so rewarding to see something I’m so passionate about surface because of my own hard work. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my family and especially Ms. McDermott,” Jones said.

Ms. McDermott teaches Erica’s AP Environmental class. This class triggered the incitement to intently kick start her senior year by taking the steps to complete the composting project.

The first week of May, Jones’s passionate endeavor was finally tangible. In the middle of the cafeteria, there was a compost trash can placed prominently next to the recycle bin and trash can. Through another grant by Ian Crawford, they were able to get a new composter.

As Jones attends Brown University in the fall of next school year, Emma Mangino (’19) was asked by Erica to continue the composting project. Jones worked with her two years ago on an idling project with the town’s Environmental Commission and again this year on making carbon footprints for Glen Rock, so she knew she was interested in environmental projects. Mangino’s responsibilities will consist of running the compost project, along with closing up the grant and writing up the final report.

“I know I can count on Emma. When I asked her to takeover she was very enthusiastic and that’s what really matters because if you have the passion to do something, what can stop you from doing it?” Jones said.

Jones’s project has been a success thus far. Students enrolled in environmental classes reminded students in the cafeteria to use the compost bin. There was no shock to the administrators of how successful the project turned out to be.

“I’m always impressed by Erica because she leads by example and uses her passions for the benefit of others,” Arlotta said.