Eco-friendly reusable plastic lunch trays made their debut at Kyrene de los Lagos Elementary Wednesday, replacing the school’s usual Styrofoam trays.
And that was only one change going on in the Kyrene School District to celebrate Go Green Week, a student-driven awareness campaign to promote environmentally friendly actions.
The recommendation for a Go Green week came from the Student Superintendent Advisory Council, a group of students from across the Kyrene district who meet with the superintendent once a month to discuss issues.
Kendall Schwartz, the fifth-grade student who represents Lagos on the council, said the goal was to make Kyrene the greenest district possible. Go Green Week is meant to help students learn to be environmentally friendly early on, and also to help the district do its part, Schwartz said.
“As a whole district, we probably produce a lot of waste,” she said.
There are activities going on all week in the Kyrene district. Monday kicked off a recycling drive, students all wore green on Tuesday and lights were turned down on Wednesday.
“It really makes you look at the waste of lights,“ said Lagos principal Tonja Yalong. “I really don’t need two lights in my office.”
Students were scheduled to put all their recyclables in one big pile Thursday to see how much waste they had been able to recycle.
“My class, we’re trying to recycle a lot, cleaning out our desks and seeing what we can recycle,” Schwartz said.
Most of the Go Green Week activities were happening district-wide, but individual schools also found their own ways to celebrate. The plastic lunch trays, which are similar to paper-lined baskets featured in many restaurants, were driven by a Lagos parent’s research into waste created by Styrofoam trays, Yalong said.
Lagos is one of four schools to switch from Styrofoam trays to plastic as part of a pilot project. If it’s successful, the plastic trays could spread to all schools in the district.
“It’s not a cost savings; it’s about equal,” Yalong said. “It was really just about what’s good for the environment.”
The new trays were a hit with students.
Third-grader Jenna Bolena played up the environmental factor to explain why she liked the new trays.
“With the Styrofoam, you just throw them away,” she said.
But there was another practical reason for liking the new baskets.
“I like these because the Styrofoam can rip,” third-grade student Kate Barney said.
“Yesterday, my Styrofoam ripped,” chimed in classmate Israel Carrazco.
Go Green Week may officially be just one week out of the year, but Schwartz hopes efforts continue. For instance, she hopes to see the lights turned down every Wednesday.
And if the students have anything to do with it, reusable cafeteria trays may not be the only change coming to the cafeteria.
“We still use water bottles in the cafeteria,” Schwartz said. “We’re still trying to get recycling bins.”