The Oak Park and River Forest High School Environmental Club conducted a waste audit of the student cafeterias in late January. Seven Generations Ahead’s Zero Waste Schools Program Manager Susan Casey provided on-site support and guidance for the audit.

The group of seven students, along with the club’s faculty adviser, collected trash and recycling bins after lunch periods. They weighed and examined the contents of each bag to determine the amount of waste the school lunchroom produced. The students got a sense of the landfill, recycling, and liquid contamination produced throughout the course of a day.

On Feb. 7, the Environmental Club convened for its weekly meeting in a science classroom. Susan Casey and Abbey Prendiville, SGA’s new program associate, joined the meeting. They discussed and analyzed the collected waste audit data with the students, who then identified areas of improvement and contemplated their next steps.

The students are now are working with SGA to create customized sorting signs to label trash and recycling bins in the cafeterias. Next steps for the club include preparing data, recommendations and questions to present to the school food service directors and administrators.

The OPRFHS students are energized and excited about moving forward on reducing lunchroom waste. They hope their work will make a positive change in the school and within the community.

—Abigail Prendiville