Eco-friendly locals are King County Earth Heroes at School

Inglemoor High’s Bailey Moritz displays the landfill, recycling and composting bins in the cafeteria.  - ANDY NYSTROM, Bothell-Kenmore Reporter
Inglemoor High’s Bailey Moritz displays the landfill, recycling and composting bins in the cafeteria.
— image credit: ANDY NYSTROM, Bothell-Kenmore Reporter

Bailey Moritz recently spent some time looking at colleges in Vermont and Maine, searching for a school with a solid environmental-studies program.

That's fitting, since the Inglemoor High junior is making her mark right here at home.

Tomorrow, Moritz and Woodin Elementary and Leota Junior High volunteers Angela Johnson and Robin Lane Schoomer will represent the Northshore in receiving King County Earth Heroes at School awards at the Community Center at Mercer View on Mercer Island. In total, 23 awards will go to county schools, teachers, students, volunteers, staff and programs. King County Executive Dow Constantine will honor the winners at 4:30 p.m.

Moritz is president of her school’s Earth Corps club and initiated a semester-long trial to compost school-cafeteria waste.

"It's definitely a good reward, having put in a lot of effort. Hopefully people can see that young people are out there trying to change the culture of how we do things — it's really pretty simple," Moritz said of students sorting their items into the compost, recycle and garbage bins.

Added Bailey's dad, Paul: "I've been really impressed with what she's done. It's been a real learning experience for her." He noted that taking a concept to fruition — by first speaking with school and district administrators, janitors and the student body, and then getting students to participate in the program — has been fulfilling.

Inglemoor's Earth Corps had composting demonstrations the last few years — with four or five rolling bins at the end of each lunch table. They took data (measuring the volume of composting in the bags) those years, and Moritz and crew got everyone on board for the district-funded pilot program that started in late February. Doug Wilson, school-district finance director/support services, played an integral role in writing up a contract with Cedar Grove to pick up the composting, Moritz said.

"I think everybody really understands ... We've done some presentations to the science classrooms, showing what goes where. And kids really know how to do it — it's still, there's a lot of kids, it's hard to get them to sort, but when we have monitors there, it goes really well," said Moritz, adding that the monitors answer questions and help students with sorting.

Overall, students' sorting habits have improved over time, and Moritz said they are excited to help out.

It all starts at home for Moritz, who noted that her parents have always been eco-friendly with recycling and composting.

"I guess it was kind of around junior high, I really started seeing more of the issues, kind of became more aware of all the environmental problems in the world," she said. "So then I kind of pushed those farther at home, (saying) 'OK, we have to unplug all our chargers, have to turn the lights off when we're not using them.'"

Other local Earth Heroes:

• Woodin's Johnson often devotes weekends and after-school hours to assist in whatever way she can. A few years ago, she worked with students to create a small vegetable garden. She obtained mini-grants to enhance the garden’s use as an outdoor learning center where students and the community learn about composting, recycling and growing organic foods.

• Leota's Lane Schoomer helped students start a school-wide, food-scrap compost program and expand the recycling program. She obtained a grant, researched and purchased recycling and compost containers, gained district support, recruited parents to help with environmental club activities, ran a successful compost sale fund-raiser and implemented a plastic-bag recycling program.

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