NY Times ran an article this morning, Styrofoam, Food and Public Schools.
They have a fantastic short video about the story on the NY Times site. The reporter interviewed children as well as parents. It includes a fantastic shot of grade-school age children on the steps of City Hall with posters, flyers and stacks of old Styrofoam food trays exercising their right to free speech. The protest was organized by Councilman Bill de Blasio, a Brooklyn Democrat. The real credit should go to the concerned parents that spoke up and decided to shed light on the issue. One parent was so concerned about the waste she, along with other parents, began collecting and washing trays to use for demonstrational purposes. The amount of trays she had collected in just one day was staggering, filling an entire large trash can. A whopping 4 million Styrofoam trays go from the New York City public school lunchrooms to the landfill each month.
Polystyrene Foam, or Styrofoam (its trade name), is a petroleum based product that has already been banned from nearly 100 American cities. It takes hundreds of years to decompose and is a large component of marine debris (a nice way of saying a large part of the garbage we pull out of the ocean is Styrofoam). It has also been linked to starvation in marine wildlife and birds.
I’m so glad to see the next generation is being taught to one, take care of the environment and two, be civically engaged. The children of the New York City School System are getting a great education in social responsibility.
Public school parents in Brooklyn have started a movement to remove Styrofoam tableware in 1,400 city schools. These trays are bad for the environment and waste school budget money.
I am inspired and I hope you have been too. Does your local takeout or restaurant use Styrofoam to-go containers? Take your own small container next time, split your meal with a friend so you’ll be less likely to have leftovers, go somewhere else, or eat-in more often (gasp) by having rotating dinner parties with friends. Take your own travel mug to your local coffee house. Some places will even give you a small discount. Who knows, you might find these compostable food containers at a take-out joint near you.