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Renbrook Student Making His Mark in Caring for the Environment

Renbrook student CJ Glooch. Courtesy photo

A West Hartford resident and student at Renbrook School is engaged in a hands-on project with Blue Earth.


CJ Glooch is an eighth grader at Renbrook School and a budding environmentalist.

CJ is part of the Trustee Scholar program at Renbrook and chose to make a difference in his community and in the world by doing something good for the planet. The Trustee Scholar Program is student-initiated service learning designed to fulfill an identified need within the school or the community while fostering personal growth and leadership for the student. Students in the Trustee Scholar Program must choose a project, make a proposal to the Board of Trustees, volunteer a minimum of 15 hours with the organization, and deliver a final presentation about what they learned from the project to their peers and the Board of Trustees.

CJ has chosen to work with Blue Earth Compost to recycle coffee pods and coffee grounds.

“I chose to help save the planet and after watching my dad compost with Blue Earth for years, I wanted to get involved,” he said. Blue Earth Compost is a food scrap collection service for residents, municipalities, and businesses in Connecticut. Blue Earth’s motto is that food scraps are resources, not waste – they don’t belong in the trash. Food scraps can be put to work to create nutrient-rich compost that makes plants, flowers, and especially food, grow healthier, stronger, and tastier.

CJ shared his thoughts about the damage coffee pods are doing to our environment and what can be done about it. “The rise in popularity of Keurig and Nespresso machines are good for coffee drinkers, but bad for the environment. Most of their pods are thrown away, ending up unnecessarily in landfills and incinerators. Every year, U.S. landfills are filled with 140 million tons of waste, a major contributor to global warming. I think we can reduce this problem and would like your help. These coffee pods can be recycled, and their grounds composted if done properly. I am partnering with Blue Earth Compost to collect these pods, empty the grounds into the compost, and recycle the packaging with TerraCycle.”

The recycling and composting project not only benefits the environment but has also been a great learning experience for CJ. He shares that the process has not always been easy. He has had to work at developing professional communication skills, being organized and reliable, and has had to persevere when some of his initial plans didn’t take shape as he hoped.

At Renbrook School, teachers bring learning to life for students every day. Service to the school and community is emphasized throughout the Upper School experience.  Students at all grade levels have opportunities to serve their communities as student mentors and stewards of the campus. The eighth-grade leadership program supports students in using their skills and talents to serve while developing understanding and empathy. CJ has certainly demonstrated those skills.

To date, CJ has been able to compost the grounds and nettings from more than 1,000 coffee pods. That’s great news. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to recycle the plastic or aluminum pods that hold the grounds. TerraCycle offers a solution, but it comes at a cost – $214 for approximately 2,000 pods ­– and the program is currently unfunded. While CJ’s sister is imagining creative ways to turn these into art installations, a more sustainable solution is necessary. That’s where CJ and the program can use the help of local residents and business owners who may be interested in donating funds to cover the costs of recycling. Please contact John Glooch, CJ’s dad, at [email protected], or Sam King at [email protected], for more information.

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