Reducing Waste at Lunch
By Katya Ramirez '24
Source: Healthy Food Choices in Schools
An estimated 530,000 tons of school cafeteria food is wasted each year, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). School lunch that should be getting composted instead goes into landfills. The food then rots and produces methane, adding to the high atmospheric levels we are already struggling with. Also, this does not take into consideration the plastic wrapping and single-use utensils schools provide daily. According to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, on average a student produces 67 pounds of waste per school year, which in total is 18,760 pounds for an average elementary school. As we know, plastic does not decompose, and much of its waste ends up in the ocean, harming wildlife and ecosystems.
So, how can we help reduce these absurd numbers? For one, we can bring in our own water bottles and utensils. Just by bringing in our own reusable water bottles, we are able to reduce our waste by 156 bottles a year, according to Beyond Plastics. Another way we can help reduce our waste at lunch time is by composting our leftover food. By composting our food, we could cut down on our methane emissions by 8.3 pounds for every 100 pounds of food thrown out, as said by Extra Foods.
Finally, you can send your non-recyclables to a company called TerraCycle whose mission is to “eliminate the idea of waste.” TerraCycle is able to recycle virtually anything. They do this by partnering with individual collectors (which can be you!), major consumers, and small businesses! Terracycle has a free recycling program which you can sign up for and earn points to win items made out of the non-recyclables. To recycle with TerraCycle, just check out their website to find a drop off location near you! Just by switching to these small everyday things, we are able to help the Earth in a big way.