At Wilson High School in Northwest, a team of ninth graders is inspecting the limp broccoli and soggy bread leftover from lunch. But amid the scraps, they see the signs of a cleaner planet.
"I really didn't know much about composting until now, and now I think it's a really good idea," says ninth grader Tia Strickland.
Sam Brooks, associate director of the D.C. Department of General Services, says the new composting program at Wilson is part of a citywide effort to reduce waste.
"We just launched a pilot program specific to composting at 10 of our schools, actually one in each ward across the city," says Brooks. "This is really part of a broader effort to make our schools as healthy and sustainable as we can."
For example, ninth grader Joshua Schmidt says Wilson is experimenting with a giant machine that sucks up food scraps and transforms them into fertilizer that can be used for school gardens.
"If we can reuse the compost and not just waste it and send it to another big landfill, then we will be able to have more good soil and clean air, and cleaner and greener everything," says Schmidt.
Meanwhile, Lena Jones says she's ready to pitch in with sorting through the trash. "Yeah," she says. "Maybe with some gloves on."