Omaha’s Duchesne Academy reaches zero waste threshold

An Omaha school has met a goal to have zero waste
Published: Dec. 26, 2022 at 5:42 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A big milestone for one Omaha school when it comes to living sustainably.

Omaha’s Duchesne Academy reached its goal before its deadline.

The Academy is on a mission to be zero waste by the year 2030.

“In 2015 Pope Francis released his Encyclical Laudato Si’ which was really a challenge to all people of faith and around the world to be good caretakers of creation, we’ve got one planet, we all live on it, we need to preserve it for ourselves and for the future,” said Eric Krakowski, the Sustainability Program Coordinator.

Since then, the school’s zero waste plan has been in motion through recycling and using iPads instead of paper for notes and assignments. As well as another big contributor.

“In the fall of 2017, we became the first school in the City of Omaha to incorporate a composting program as part of our lunch program and across campus, and we’ve been chugging away ever since then.”

And last month, the school accomplished its mission. They passed the zero waste threshold with 91% of the school’s waste being diverted from the landfill.

“I think everyone is really trying to do their best to be sustainable at our school, and it’s nice that it’s such a group effort,” said Grace Reyelts, a junior at Duchesne and the VP of the Sustainability Club. “You can do it like personally too, but it’s so much better when you have everyone doing it together.”

Reyelts says crossing the zero waste threshold is just the beginning.

“It feels so great, and especially since this was our goal for 2030, and we reached it so early. I’m just excited to see where we can go next with it and doing more, and I’m just really proud of all the faculty and students and everyone who has helped make it possible.”

The school also has a goal to be net zero energy by 2030, taking its first steps by installing solar panels to offset the energy used in their labs.

Sustainability is also now part of the school curriculum standards across all subjects, preparing students for a greener future.

“That’s really exciting for me to know that what they’re doing isn’t just happening in our walls but it’s going beyond our community here at Duchesne,” Krakowski said.

The Duchesne Academy is the first school in the metro to achieve the zero waste standard, and the school continues to help other schools implement zero waste programs similar to theirs.