OMAHA, Neb. -- Three Bellevue teens are working hard to restart a composting program at their school after it was suspended in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Bellevue West Senior High School students say they want to help the Earth by bringing Project Revitalize back to school in 2022.

Project Revitalize is a composting program designed by FBLA students at Bellevue West to turn food scraps into renewable energy and natural fertilizer for healthy soil. The project started at the high school in the winter of 2019, and within the first week, the high school diverted 56% of its waste from landfills.

Additionally, composting reduces greenhouse gas emissions. In landfills, organic materials, like food scraps are broken down by bacteria to produce methane. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is shown to have a warming potential of 21 times that of carbon dioxide.

This program is entirely run by the students, so it is up to them to get the funding and the approval from their school to restart it.

Now students such as 17-year-old Carlee Rigatuso are working hard to get the funding and convince their school administrator to give them a green light.  

“We have proven that the project is successful at diverting more than half of our schools’ waste,” Rigatuso said. “Now we just need to get enough support to restart the project. This project is important to me because of the impact it did and could have.”

Rigatuso and the other students are working hard to get funding. She even spent a recent study hall period giving a Zoom presentation to local nonprofit Green Bellevue. The group was so impressed that it offered four months of funding through a partnership from the nonprofit and Northrop Grumman. 

Green Bellevue Board Member, Don Preister said the nonprofit was impressed by the take-charge leadership shown by the students. 

“Green Bellevue was blown away at the success this project had in diverting waste in 2019," Preister said. "This project is a model for all schools and what our community needs. Our youth are leading the way in sustainability to show us all how to lead cleaner, greener lives. ”

The Bellevue West FBLA members supply the supervision of this project. The students will oversee the composting at four different lunch periods each school day and they will collect data on the amount of waste diverted from the landfill. The students will hire Hillside Solutions to provide weekly pickup for the organic waste.

Now Rigatuso and her fellow students need to convince school administrators that it is time for the project to restart.

“Together, we are hoping to prove to our school administration this is a project worth investing in and is a necessary system to have in school," Rigatuso said. "Every school day that goes by without our composting program we are unnecessarily filling up landfills."