It can be easy being green
Every day was Earth Day at WHRHS last week as the school’s Student Environmental Awareness Club, (SEAC), sponsored Green Week ahead of the April 22 Earth Day observance, which falls during vacation week.
Monday featured a composting demonstration titled “Don’t Be Trashy,” students were encouraged to wear green on Tuesday, Wednesday was “Lights Out” day, students learned to make organic yogurt during seminar with science teacher Laurie Bianchi on Thursday, and Friday’s student news program featured more information on composting.
“A few of us went to Hingham to see what they were doing because we heard they were doing wonderful environmental things,” Bianchi said Thursday. Club President Megan Concannon and Vice President Leah Pederson drove over to Hingham High School one afternoon and were duly impressed and inspired.
“The composting is new,” Bianchi said. “We’re starting that as soon as we get back from vacation.”
Hanson’s Ace Hardware store has donated bins for the project into which students are encouraged to place their food waste for composting. Student volunteers will empty the collection bins into an outdoor composting bin donated by the East Bridgewater DPW.
“Composting itself is relatively low-tech,” she said. “It just decomposes into beautiful soil we can use in all the gardens.”
SEAC’s 42 members are also planning a water filtration project to change the habit of relying on bottled water.
“Students were inspired after getting two environmental awards last spring to do more at the high school,” Bianci said. “They decided, without nudges from me, to look into a No Idling Policy, composting program, and fundraising to purchase water filtration units.”
SEAC has teamed up with Next Step Living in the SEED fundraiser to raise money for the water filtration units. Green Hanson also made a sizable donation.
Through SEED, Next Step Living will make the following donations to SEAC: $10 for every completed no-cost home energy assessment and $50 for every completed no-cost home solar assessment
To sign-up for a no-cost home energy evaluation provided by your local utility sponsored energy saving program, Mass Save, go to http://goodener.gy/Whitman-HansonHS-HEA. Sign-ups for a solar assessment are made at http://goodener.gy/Whitman-HansonHS-Solar.
Part of the organic yogurt project was to focus on healthier eating, but just as important was reducing the number of plastic containers in the waste stream, Bianchi told her students.
“You also save yourself a ton of money because it’s actually very easy to make yogurt,” she said.
Students heated four cups of milk to just boiling in a microwave oven, allowing it to cool to 117 degrees.
“The longest process is heating the milk and allowing it to cool to the proper temperature,” she said. “If it’s too hot, you’re going to kill the bacteria. If it’s too cold, it may take longer to set.”
After using some of the hot milk to temper two tablespoons of plain yogurt with active cultures, they added it to the milk to act as a beneficial bacterial source. A half cup of powdered milk is also added for additional protein and to act as a thickening agent during the 10 to 24 hours it needs for incubation.
Cooking, of course is a science.
“The first time you make yogurt you need some plain yogurt as a starter,” Bianchi said. “You’ll never have to buy yogurt again.”