Registered: March 2012
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At Estill County High School, like schools all over the United States, we waste a lot of paper and plastic products in our cafeteria. All of this waste is not recycled; it travels the short distance from the school's dumpster to the growing landfill that is located directly across the road from Estill County's middle and high schools. My two friends, Rebecca and Kayla, and I decided to do something about it.
We started a stewardship project through FCCLA called "Go Green to Save Green" to combat the unnecessary wastes produced by our classmates and teachers during lunchtime. During our research for our project, we found that the wastes we produce in the cafeteria not only harm our environment, but it also is harmful to the students and the school budget. We discovered that millions of animals die each year due to eating plastic and Styrofoam, and that the school is wasting significant amounts of money by throwing away plastic forks, Styrofoam plates, plastic salad boxes, and individual wrappings for salad toppings, fruit, and sandwiches instead of reusing metal forks and real plates. We also unearthed some surprising information about Styrofoam. Styrofoam is produced from a known cancer-causing carcinogen, which is released in the form of a gas when someone carves their fork into it and could be ingested.
To combat these issues, our main goal was to persuade the school system to switch to the more eco-friendly, reusable plates and forks and to install a salad bar instead of the prepackaged salads we now receive during lunch time. We were told that the reason they had resorted to the disposable materials in the first place was that the students threw them away. However, we discovered a story of a school whose student council members stood by the trash cans and rewarded students with candies when they put their forks in the correct place. We thought that this was an excellent idea, and that it would work in our cafeteria. We also received permission from our principal to launch our “Save the Forks” metal fork donation program. We have encouraged students to donate any unwanted metal forks to our cause.
Along with our advisor for FCCLA, Debbie Anders, we took steps in order to bring about change. We got our project together with a speech, and set out to present our findings to those in positions to make changes. After presenting to Belinda Puckett, the Food Service Director for Estill County Schools, she said she was receptive to our ideas and was willing to work with us. She even said she could order some forks to add to our fork donation program. We also presented to Lauren Radar and Victoria Barnett, the leaders of Estill County’s Green Team. They were willing to help us in any way they could, and offered to expand their recycling program to include the cafeteria. Estill County FBLA also said there would help us by incorporating our project into their program of work. I have also won the first place prize in both the regional and state FCCLA Star Event competitions with my project, which has help raise the awareness of this issue in my school.
There are definite plans to switch to metal forks, real plates, and a salad bar in the near future because of the project we started. I have been an influence on my community though this project, and because of that I have been able to reduce the amount of waste in our cafeteria, reuse the forks and plates, and recycle the wastes that cannot be eliminated completely.