By Jennifer Carcich
Over the past three years the students and staff have been able to recycle all of the plastic that has entered our building through our very own “Bin of Bags” program. Unfortunately, the company we were working with has gone out of business. Our plastics were among those being sent to China for recycling and they are now enforcing stricter (and healthier) guidelines in this country. This is a healthy reminder to all of us that reducing waste is a much more effective choice than trying to recycle or dispose of it!
We are taking this as an opportunity to reevaluate and revive our practices at the school. Our mission of sustainability is the essence of our school. Please help us reinforce the mission by revisiting how you are preparing and sending in your child’s lunch and snacks. For those who are sending in lunches and snacks, please consider buying in bulk and sending portions in to school in reusable containers. This will not only reduce waste but may also reduce your expenses. Individual snack item wrappers were the most common item on our old Bin of Bags recycling program followed by juice/milk boxes. Yogurt tubes are another big landfill item in the Bin of Bags. Here are some helpful tips on how to provide some popular items in a more sustainable way:
- Purchase large containers or yogurt and send in portioned amounts (reusable food pouches or containers)
- Purchase cheese in blocks and cut into pieces for each day
- Make your own lunchables with cut pieces of cheese and favorite crackers
- Consider making your own cereal bars, nut-free granola bars, and other delicious snacks (visit the Unity Blog for some sustainable food recipes!)
We recognize that moving to more sustainable lunches and snacks may change the way you shop and may take some additional time for preparation. However, moving to a more sustainable practice is just a matter of starting new habits and these new habits will leave the planet healthier for you and your children. Perhaps try just changing one item at a time until you get the hang of it. Together, our community can make a difference!
Articles related to this topic:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/china-recycles-plastic/ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/california-plastic-bag-ban/ http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/oct/06/smelly-contaminated-disease-worlds-open-dumps
About the Author:
Jennifer Carcich is the 2/3 Grade Teacher and Lower School Team Leader at Unity Charter School. This is her fourth year teaching at Unity Charter School. She is certified to teach both general education and special education students and has been in the teaching field since 1994. Jennifer takes pride in helping Unity Charter School continue to strengthen its unique and innovative approach to education and bring forth the school’s mission.
The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Unity Charter School. Unity Charter School is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the author.