Last school year, the Green Team successfully achieved its goal of eliminating disposable trays and plastic utensils. The use of plastic utensils and styrofoam trays immensely speeds up the progress of global warming, as plastic takes 1,000 years to decompose according to thebalancesmallbusiness.com and 500 years for styrofoam to decompose according to packsize.com. The Green Team realized this and took action. However, the cafeteria still serves food on styrofoam trays and some plastic utensils are still being distributed to students.
In the 2018-2019 school year, Green Team members including Co-President Bailey Higgins, Public Coordinator Sudhiksha Kumar, and Project Coordinator Rani Patel helped to push JCHS administration to use hard plastic trays instead of disposable ones and metal silverware instead of plastic utensils.
However, since there are still styrofoam trays distributed, this posed the question of “why?” for many students and for the green team.
“If there has (sic) to be trays that aren’t reusable, why can’t we have more sustainable products, like paper products?” Patel questioned when discussing concerns with Director of School Nutrition, Dana Doerhoff.
Sustainability is something that is very important to keep waste down, our landfills emptier and trash out of our oceans. However, the Green Team believes that Jefferson City High School is more concerned with convenience rather than with the deteriorating environmental status.
“We considered using paper instead of styrofoam, however, paper is not as sturdy as styrofoam. We want something sturdy as the students do carry their tray from the Jay Bar area to the cafeteria.” Doerhoff stated in response.
In addition to this, many students have reported seeing stacks of clean, hard plastic trays behind the counter, but still only being given styrofoam trays.
“On the days where we do have styrofoam trays…like on half days…there will be clean trays, perfectly stacked behind the counter. And, the Jay Bar uses styrofoam trays every day.” Kumar remarks.
“Currently the dish machine cannot keep up with the number of trays coming through during the lunch shifts. As the number of students decreases at JCHS we will continue to phase out styrofoam.” Doerhoff says to counter Green Team’s inquiries.
The Green Team believes that JCHS seems to be able to afford a lot of new appliances and renovations for this new school year. Almost everything in the building was remodeled or replaced. Things such as the giant red Jay tower were constructed for aesthetic purposes. The Green Team wonders why JCHS renovated the building, but more efficient dishwashers were not able to be installed.
“The responses we’ve gotten to our questions all just seem like little excuses,” Kumar adds.
Thanks to the Green Team, reducing waste has started to become a more relevant and urgent issue at JCHS. Despite these obstacles, the Green Team has got administration and the student body alike talking about climate change. The first step to overcoming issues is talking about the problem and then the next step is to take action.