HARRISVILLE, R.I. (WLNE) – When most of us go out to lunch or dinner, we throw away things like forks and straws in the trash without giving it a second thought. However, some third graders in Burrillville are giving it a second thought, trying to stop one-time use food items from going to the landfill.
It's a familiar sight in school cafeterias everywhere: Styrofoam trays being dumped in the trash.
WL Callahan 3rd Grader Julia Breault says, “It stays on earth for 500 years or more and it just piles up in the landfill, and that's not really good because we don't have that much more space.”
Three third graders at WL Callahan School in Harrisville say they read an article about the Styrofoam that made them so concerned about all that waste, they decided they needed to do something about it.
They call the project “Stomp out Styrofoam.”
WL Callahan 3rd Grader Adam DeCesare says, “We just wanted to make a little bit of a difference with this school so it might carry on to the next school.”
WL Callahan 3rd Grade Teacher Rachel Auclair says, “The three of them said ‘We will not work on other projects. We are dedicating our time to this project and this project only.’”
The students started asking about solutions to reduce the number of trays going into the trash.
WL Callahan 3rd Grader Sean Zanella says, “Biodegradable doesn't really even help because you have to compost them.”
The school has plastic trays that could be washed and reused, but the budget doesn't cover the cost of a dishwasher.
Breault says, “We were actually thinking of missing a day of recess every single week and washing the trays.”
Instead, starting next year, the cafeteria has agreed to launch a new policy. One day per week, they will serve no–mess lunches and encourage students not to grab those Styrofoam trays.
The town's recycling coordinator, Andrea Hall, says it's a great first step that they hope to expand on.
Hall says, “It's been an awesome opportunity to work with these three kids. They have more drive and excitement about this than a lot of adults have about many things.”