Sustainability’s vision for saving the Earth


Before COVID-19 shut down schools, Marian’s Sustainability Club had been making progress in their efforts to be more environmentally conscious at lunch. However, with online learning and the 6-foot mandate, it became difficult to effectively compost. Supply shortages made it hard to get compostable utensils and plates. This year, the club members are working on getting things rolling again.

The club came up with a process to make sure that students were throwing out the least amount of waste as possible. The waste from lunches are separated into categories by students, with the help of volunteers from the Sustainability Club. This year, the club added a compost bucket to the mix to catch all the leftover food from lunch. The club members stack flexible plastics and recycle anything with the familiar triangle of arrows on it.

Hillside Solutions collects the waste not only for Marian but for the convent’s ecology group. Inspired by the students in the sustainability club, the Servite Sister’s ecology group now composts in their own lunchroom. Hillside Solutions also collects and processes waste from businesses and even homes in Omaha

 Mr. Nick Miller, a chemistry and physics teacher, takes away from his own lunch to support the students. Miller directs where the waste from lunch ends up everyday during the second lunch. He’s dedicated to the club and does whatever he can to make a difference. Miller said, “as a school if we all compost a little bit more it’s going to have a big impact.” He encourages teachers to turn lights off when classrooms aren’t in use, and urges students to get out of their cars in the morning to save gas. 

 Mrs. Alee Cotton, a teacher from the English department, moderates the club along with Mr. Miller. At the start of her lunch period she takes Tucker, Marian’s therapy dog, outside, quickly eats her lunch, then heads to the lunchroom to help out. The club has made significant progress this semester, “By the end of second lunch we have more than 10 gallons of compostable waste,” Cotton said. In regards to the club’s future, Cotton said, “Their overall goal is to have compostable materials in the cafeteria.” The less waste going to the landfill the better. However, compost materials can be expensive. The club plans to fund this process for the compostable material by conserving energy in building. “If we can save this much money on electricity or gas costs then can we reallocate that money to the cafeteria,” Cotton said. A no waste cafeteria is a possibility for Marian in the future. “There are many different layers to sustainability and the girls are very motivated,” Cotton said. Students volunteer every lunch to make sure they reach their sustainability goals. With the students’ dedication, the sustainability program can only improve.

Junior Taylor Roemmich, a member of the club, grew up in a family that regularly practiced sustainability. They inspired her to share her knowledge with Marian. She joined the club and volunteers her time at lunch. Roemmich reminds us that, “It’s just a simple mindset. Once you start doing it, you just get used to it.” 

Sustainability members Emmy Hoyt ‘24, Hannah Taylor ‘26 and moderator Mrs. Alee Cotton help students to compost and recycle at lunch. The Sustainability Club strives to make sure they are doing all they can to help educate students on being more sustainable and helping the environment. Photo by ReaganGraeve

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