Emma Pautz

Emma Pautz is a rising Junior at Barrington High School in Barrington, Rhode Island. She has been an intern for Clean Ocean Access since May 2023. Emma has been passionate about environmentalism for several years. She initially started her environmental work in middle school when she met with her principal to ask that the school take steps to be more environmentally conscious. Soon after, she created a non-profit organization, Barrington Environmental Establishment, with the goal of educating members of her community on climate change and what they can do to help. Emma has also started composting at her middle school and high school, assisted in organizing the Rhode Island College Compost Conference, and worked with her town to create a compost drop-off location in her community. Since a young age, Emma has known that she wants to dedicate her life to mitigating climate change and its effects. Her goal is to create solutions in her community. She is very much looking forward to the impact she can make by joining the Advocacy Project team.

Composting at Barrington High School, RI

27 Jun

Emma, right, records garbage collected on Second Beach, Middletown, RI under the watchful eye of team leader Sarah Lavallee from Clean Ocean Access.


Over the summer of 2022, I learned of an ordinance in Rhode Island that would mandate composting in schools starting on January 1st, 2023. I wanted our school to follow this mandate so I began to research ways to integrate composting into our school. By the time that school began again, a couple other students and I proposed this idea to our principal and began to work with our Environmental club to see it executed by January.

Originally, we wanted to have a composting organizer in our school cafeteria with dividers, however, this plan needed to be altered to meet the requests of the administration. We had altered our plan so that, rather than having organized dividers, we started off small with only a few bins scattered around the cafeteria. While it may have taken a lot of time to get to the point where we could actually implement composting in the school cafeteria, the execution provided its own challenges.

Since high school students are known to have difficulty with new instructions, we were worried that without dividers they wouldn’t compost at all. To make this work, we realized that we would need to advertise and monitor composting. We created a system of monitoring the composting bins. For the past 6 months, we have been able to get about half a 5 gallon bucket of compost each day (around 300 gallons). All of the food scraps we get from our cafeteria goes to a local farm where it will be used in their fields. While we had been advocating for a composting system for almost a year, we have still yet to meet our goals. Although our school district has said that in the 2023-2024 school year that they would implement our original compost dividers plan, we know that our work isn’t over.

While the process has been difficult at times, its importance to our community has made it worthwhile.


Spreading the word at Portsmouth High School

Posted By Emma Pautz

Posted Jun 27th, 2023

1 Comment

  • Iain Guest

    July 13, 2023


    Great work and great post, Emma! I really like the way you describe your interaction with your school administrators and helped them to implement the new ordnance in Rhode Island. This shows a ton of initiative but also some very good strategic thinking! Next step is to share it with other schools and student groups who are interested. I may have some contacts for you in Kenya shortly. Great job!

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