Kristyn Hartman
If you walked into Tully Hall Friday, you saw a row of tables with labeled buckets, and a crew of faculty, staff and students, with science teacher Chris Marks leading the bucket brigade.

They were on a mission to sort all the lunch waste of the day, by asking everyone in the cafeteria to use the buckets to separate things like food waste, from plastics and paper.  That kind of attention to detail is what it takes to have a successful trash audit. 

“We are evaluating waste flow in real time,” said Marks, “Hopefully we’ll use what we learn to make changes and push our school to be more sustainable.”

The genesis of the audit was a smaller one from the Ignatian Values Day in March. In an effort to focus on Caring for our Common Home, Marks led a more limited trash audit. 

“The data from that suggests that we generate - just in this cafeteria - about 40 tons of trash per year, which is a lot,” said Marks, “And of that trash, just the plastic alone is equivalent to about 4000 water bottles every day, which over the course of a year could fill our third floor gym in three feet of bottles.”

Marks says Saint Ignatius College Prep needs to do better, and that a larger audit can help the Wolfpack get there.

Too much food waste? Perhaps shrink portion sizes so people aren’t disposing of as much. 

Too many paper plates and an excess of plastic ware in the trash? Maybe the answer is going with compostable plates and silverware so all that material can go into a composting bin instead of a landfill.

Marks said, “The larger audit is a step in the right direction in a long journey.  I want to help move this school forward in a more sustainable fashion.”

Students working with Marks believe, together, we can make a difference. 

Jen Petritz ’24 said, “I want to help the earth. We can get a handle on the waste we produce at the school."

Saint Ignatius College Prep

Saint Ignatius College Prep, a Jesuit Catholic school in the heart of Chicago, is a diverse community dedicated to educating young men and women for lives of faith, love, service and leadership.