Go Green or Go Home

Central Hardin Should Opt For Other Options

Allison Cundiff, Staff Writer

One thing I’ve thought about the last three years at Central is how many products we waste on a day to day basis. We use easily disposable materials in the cafeteria that aren’t good for the environment such as styrofoam trays, plastic forks, and plastic clamshell containers, not to mention the dozens of plastic bottles that are thrown away on a daily basis.

“Yesterday [Monday Sept 23], we served 951 students,” cafeteria assistant manager Lisa Ellis says. 

Say those same 951 students bought lunch each day of the week. Give or take, this equates to around 4,755 trays a week filling our landfill. 65,619 trays yearly. These statistics are startling, considering styrofoam doesn’t biodegrade. 

While I understand that using disposable materials in the cafeteria, is cheaper for the school, I just wish we could use alternative materials that could be reused or recycled. Alternative options could be metal forks and reusable trays or bagasse trays. Bagasse trays are made from sugar cane fibers left over from the juicing process. The reason bagasse trays are more environmentally friendly is because sugar cane is an easily renewable resource and the trays are biodegradable. 

Reusable trays would be beneficial because it would reduce waste, but the issue with these greener options is the cost, as Ellis confirms. 

“We would be open to different options, we would just have to figure out the cost,” Ellis says. 

To implement the change would, indeed, be expensive. Bagasse trays would cost about five cents more, depending on the seller. For reusable trays, the school may have to hire someone to just to wash the trays and forks. 

Another issue I have thought about was the lack of recycling bins around the school. With the amount of plastic bottles in the school from the vending machines, or bottles brought from home, tons of plastic waste is coming into school when it can be recycled. If we were to recycle these, it would be more beneficial to the environment. 

Even if getting rid of the styrofoam trays completely isn’t an option, I think we could implement a day of the week to not use styrofoam. “No Foam Fridays” could become a tradition at Central. If we can’t eliminate the use of styrofoam completely, reducing the use still helps the environment.