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Sustainable school division

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SOSD secretary-treasurer Wayne Shimizu stands next to an organic waste container and garden behind the SOSD head office (830 Powers St.). Shimizu is the inaugural recipient of the Grey Owl Award, which recognizes practices and ideas that contribute to school divisions in Manitoba.

PHOTO BY JARED STORY Enlarge Image

SOSD secretary-treasurer Wayne Shimizu stands next to an organic waste container and garden behind the SOSD head office (830 Powers St.). Shimizu is the inaugural recipient of the Grey Owl Award, which recognizes practices and ideas that contribute to school divisions in Manitoba. Photo Store

Wayne’s Shimizu’s commitment to composting has earned him an award.

Shimizu, secretary-treasurer of the Seven Oaks School Division (SOSD) is the inaugural recipient of the Grey Owl Award, which recognizes practices and ideas that contribute to Manitoba school divisions.

Shimizu, who has worked for SOSD for 29 years, was the driving force behind the division’s purchase of a large commercial composting machine in August of 2012. A division-wide composting program was implemented in the fall of 2012.

"About five years ago, the provincial government came up with a grant for recycling, and as a result of the recycling grant, our cost for waste was being reduced," Shimizu said. "We wondered ‘What can we do that continues along sustainable practice and reallocates some of those expense monies we were saving on garbage pickup?’

"Cliff Meder (former SOSD director of operations) and myself talked about composting. At the time we were looking at contracting with a big company (Samborski Environmental Ltd.), but it was a fairly expensive proposition because we were looking at weekly pickup at every location. Then we heard about what The Forks is doing. The Forks has a BIOvator which is an agricultural machine farmers use to compost dead animals. We figured if it can do that, it can probably handle the organic materials we’re getting out of our schools, which is mainly lunches."

Shimizu said SOSD did a division-wide weeklong survey, asking each school to weigh its organic waste. After finding out that its schools produced a lot of compostable material, the division purchased the BIOvator.

The machine is located at SOSD’s maintenance and transportation yard (2536 McPhillips St.), with utility workers picking up organic waste from each school on a weekly basis.  

Instead of ending up in the landfill, SOSD’s organic waste, once turned into compost, ends up in school gardens. Shimizu said the practice fits perfectly with SOSD’s commitment to sustainable development education.

"I think previously people were doing it (composting), but they just didn’t realize they were doing it, and as discarding things became more convenient, less composting happened," Shimizu said.

"To me it’s important to show students that it’s relatively painless to be able to compost and improve the quality of the environment. If everybody does a little bit, it adds up and can make a significant difference."

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