Going Green in Our Lunch Room

  • Stacked Compostable Lunch Trays      

    One year ago, half a dozen Hillcrest students carried 12 oversized bags of garbage into an Oak Harbor School Board Meeting. As student representatives of the Hillcrest Green Team, these industrious students found a unique way to bring the real-world problem of non-recyclable styrofoam lunch trays to the attention of the board.  The students explained to board members that each year Hillcrest was throwing away over 45,000 styrofoam lunch trays into local landfills. The students then presented information and data they collected on how a dishwasher for reusable plastic trays or switching to compostable trays would be more cost-efficient and better for the environment.  

    Fast forward one year later and thanks to those students' concern for the planet, Hillcrest is now piloting the use of compostable lunch trays  -- the first of its kind program in the Oak Harbor Public Schools.  Our cafeteria began using the compostable trays on October 17th and the impact was immediate and meaningful. Daily waste went from those 12 large garbage bags to only 4 and ½ bags!  This reduction in the garbage is itself what pays for the cost of the trays as we are able to cut our garbage bill by more than half!  


    As with all great and innovative things that happen at Hillcrest, the compostable trays pilot would not be possible without the ingenuity and contributions of our students, staff, and community partners:

    • Special thanks to our principal, Paula Seaman, who “went to bat” behind the scenes for our students to make their concept a reality.  

    • The Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Public Works Department and Navy Whidbey Recycling Division for composting the trays every week.

    • OHPS Business Director, Vicki Williams, who worked with our students to show them how "numbers are crunched" in a real-world job.

    • Food Services Director, Ken Harrison, who facilitated the smooth transition from styrofoam to compostable.

    • Brian Hunt and John Piepenbrink from the OHPS Facilities and Maintenance Department who worked alongside our Student Green Team and custodian, “Super” Dave Crain, on the logistics of garbage removal and recycling.


    Congratulations to the Hillcrest Green Team students and staff for their vision and commitment to our school, our community, and our planet!