An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

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New club works to reduce waste, improve landscape

Courtesy of Chase Hopkins
Junior Edward Rentz-Baker engages in Plantlanta Midtown by pulling weeds to enhance Midtown’s campus greenery.

To transform Midtown High School into a greener environment, juniors Molly Thompson and Connie Erdozain established a composting and planting club, Plantlanta Midtown, aiming to cultivate a more sustainable future for the school. 

“We were discussing the lack of composting bins at our school; Midtown doesn’t have a way of composting any of our waste,” Erdozain said.  “In a school with more than 1,500 students, there is so much potential to reduce the amount of waste we have through composting. Molly and I thought it would be a great idea to try to implement composting bins in the cafeteria and in the restrooms, which would be for the paper towels.”

Recognizing the significant amounts of waste generated at Midtown, Thompson and Erdozain searched for a potential solution towards waste management. 

“We were inspired by all the waste we saw our school producing, and through research about composting, we discovered how much can actually be composted,” Thompson said. “We just started looking around the school and brainstorming ways we could make it more sustainable and how we could use composting to help further our mission.”

To get the club started, Erdozain said she had to find a teacher whose values aligned with the club’s initiatives. 

“Molly and I are both very close with [AP Capstone teacher Lisa Boyd],” Erdozain said. “She has a composting bin in her classroom for her students, and she is very interested in things like landscaping and volunteering to plant trees with Trees Atlanta;so, we talked to her and came up with the idea of creating a joint club where we focus on enhancing our school’s landscape, revitalizing the plants, removing all the weeds and having a compost system in order to make the school more sustainable while also reducing the amount of waste.”

Although this year is her first year teaching at Midtown, Boyd said her composting caught the attention of many students already. 

“From the moment I got here, I was doing composting, and a lot of students were asking about it and were really interested in it,” Boyd said. “My husband is a lead volunteer for Trees Atlanta, and so as I was walking around campus, I was thinking, ‘Oh, there’s so much [greenery] here, but it’s not very well maintained.’”

Similar to other clubs, Plantlanta is student-autonomous. However, Boyd and the co-founders all rely on each other to generate new solutions and ideas. 

“[Erdozain and Thompson] do mostly everything; we just bounce ideas off of each other,” Boyd said. “I mainly try to help give us ideas of things we can do and point them in the right direction of things we need to explore in the future.”

Due to a change in their original plans, Erdozain said Plantlanta Midtown has had to take a different approach to reaching its ultimate goal. 

“Our goal hasn’t really changed since the beginning,” Erdozain said. “We still have the goal of successfully implementing a composting program and also making our campus greener and healthier, in terms of the landscape. The only thing that has changed are the steps we’ve taken; originally, we were going to try and implement our own composting system, but that has been hard, so that has led us to work with CompostNow.”

Funding for the club has been an issue. Since the club started after the beginning of the year, it is ineligible to receive grants from the school and must, therefore, look for funding from an exterior source. 

“One of the challenges we faced was obtaining enough money to sustain our club for now and for the future,”Thompson said. “We are looking to connect with CompostNow, which would help us create a compost program and pick up our waste while giving us soil in return. However, to do that, we would need funding to link with them.”

Erdozain saidparticipation and engagement from other students has become somewhat of an issue, as well.

“Another challenge we faced when we first started the club was spreading information about the club and getting people to come to it,” Erdozain said. “ [Thompson], Boyd and I managed to create posters to put around the school and spread information about our club. Our first meeting ended up having a pretty good turnout.”

Plantlanta Midtown meets bi-weekly in Boyd’s room after school to discuss and initiate active sustainable practices. 

“We have a club meeting every two weeks, and during those meetings, we have a lot of goals we hope to accomplish, such as planting in the courtyard, picking up trash and weeding,” Thompson said. 

Cayla Drake, a junior club member, said her experience so far has been positive, and she looks forward to the future of Plantlanta Midtown. 

“I think the club is a really great group of people, and they are all really driven to better our community as a school, and I am really passionate about helping the environment, so I think it’s a great club to help better our community,” Drake said. “I hope we are able to set up a good composting system because I think that, as a community, we are all really wasteful and that we could be using our materials better.”

In addition to composting, Erdozain said there are other ways to get involved in combating waste.

“Part of our initiative is getting students to go out, volunteer and plant trees with Trees Atlanta, which hopes to make Atlanta a greener place, and sustains and maintains the urban forest,” Erdozain said.

Boyd, Erdozain and Thompson hope to continue reducing school waste and enhancing the campus’ landscape. 

“I really want to let [Plantlanta Midtown] thrive in terms of what [the students] are interested in and help them be advocates for themselves in their own world and their own environment,” Boyd said. “I want them to just, overall, to broaden awareness of what we do with the natural world and how we can work symbiotically with it.”

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Maya Rallu
Maya Rallu, Lifestyle Section Editor
Maya Rallu is a junior in her third year on the Southerner staff. She enjoys playing soccer and runs for the cross-country team.  In her free time, she likes to bake and hang out with her friends.

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