67 pounds: it doesn’t seem like much until you think about carrying it to your local landfill. It’s January 2015, which means we’re kicking off the new year and thinking of ways to improve ourselves, our schools, and our communities. This is your challenge to begin with yourself – and contributing 67 fewer pounds of waste to your local landfill this year is a great place to start.
The average school student produces about 67 pounds of lunch waste each year. That’s an average of about 1,675 pounds of lunch waste per classroom. Think about what you see in your cafeteria every afternoon. At 12 PM every day, we rip open packages, plastics, bags, straws, boxes, and wrappers – and at 12:30, we throw all of it away. It’s no secret that we’re a disposable society, but it doesn’t have to stop there! We can take action to improve our schools and communities starting with something we do every day. Here’s how!
What exactly is a Litterless Lunch? How does it make an impact?
- Replaces paper and plastic (napkins, wrappers, plastic drink bottles or boxes, straws, etc.) with reusable lunch bags, BPA-free reusable water bottles, and dishwasher-safe containers
- Promotes consumption of fresh produce! Packing an apple instead of a plastic bag of chips, or a dishwasher-safe container of grapes instead of a box of crackers can help promote local farmer’s markets and buying locally and sustainably from small farms and local growers
- Drastically reduces contribution to landfills, littering, and wild animal endangerment through contact with waste (like plastic)
- Helps protect people, animals, and the environment we share
Swap out your bag of pretzels for a reusable tin of blueberries, switch your sandwich from a plastic bag to a dishwasher-safe container, and drop the paper bag in favor of a reusable lunch box or bag. You can bring your own lunchbox and start bringing containers instead of plastics and wrappers, or you can shop for dishwasher-safe, reusable, and BPA-free containers and water bottles – and they look awesome! Who knew going green could be so trendy?
What can I do, and how do I do it?
TALK! Talk to your teachers, your parents, your guidance counselor and principal, your friends, your neighbors, and your classmates. In any situation, from schools and offices to clubs, companies, or your little sister’s lunchbox, a Litterless Lunch is an easy and simple solution that can make a big difference!
Where do I start?
- If your school has science or environmental clubs, start there. Talk to the teachers and the club members. Propose one big day in the upcoming weeks to have everyone in the club bring a Litterless Lunch.
- Talk to your other teachers and classmates, or ask your favorite teacher if you can give an informal presentation in their class. Start small – propose one day a week or every other week for everyone to try to participate in a school-wide Litterless Lunch Day.
- With appropriate permission, make an announcement or grab some recycled paper and put up posters. Promote it and get your friends involved. Remember that change starts with you, and then your friends, and then your school, and then your community and beyond.
- Get permission to visit your parents’ offices or workplaces and talk to their coworkers and colleagues about your idea. Consider visiting or writing to local companies and organizations and sharing your campaign.
- Propose a community-wide Litterless Lunch Day and get as many people involved as you can. Make it a monthly or a weekly event, and be sure to encourage and thank your supporters and those who are getting involved.
Environmentally-conscious organizations can be great places to start! Here are a few ideas:
- Local or state conservation/environmental groups
- Your local Keep America Beautiful chapter
- Community environmental club
How can I make my voice heard?
When you run out of places to visit or people to talk to, start writing! Send a letter to the editors of your local newspapers. Write essays, write blog posts, share it on social media, and write to local companies, government officials, and organizations. The best way to get people talking is to start talking, and this is a campaign that can be implemented absolutely anywhere. It’s easy, it’s cheap, and it’s great for wildlife, your health, your community, and the environment. Kick off 2015 with a resolution for a revolution, and start with yourself. You can truly make an impact on your school and community with something as simple as this. So what are you waiting for?
Together, we can start a garbage revolution. Get out there and start talking trash!