Create a List

List Name

Rename this List
Save to
Back to the Top Teaching Blog
June 20, 2016 5 Fast Ways to Save Your School Cafeteria By Christy Crawford
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    My robotics team crafted our sustainable cafeteria as part of a First Lego League Challenge and presented the data involved for the presentation part of the competition. The math was double and tripled checked for the competition. After several observations, my students learned that each day, kids in our school cafeteria:

    • Produce six, 25-pound bags of garbage

    • Dump five gallons of milk

    • Trashed 100 unopened spork or napkin packets

    From their calculations they found that in less than a month, we had wasted enough sporks to reach from the bottom of the Empire State Building to the top!

    Save the planet before the next school year ends! Take the summer months to rethink and redesign a sustainable school cafeteria. Read on for inspiration and five practical ways to help kids make positive changes. 

     

    MAKING A SUSTAINABLE CAFETERIA

    1. Ditch Sporks — Use Napkin Dispensers

    In interviews with students, we learned most kids took spork packets just for the napkin — not because they needed a utensil. No napkin dispensers? No problem. Hit the dollar store or have kids cut a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 inch card stock to make a perfect square. Then fold one set of parallel sides towards the middle.


    Cut 4, two-inch slits.

    Fold the cut edges toward the middle to form a box.

    Staple corners. Attach handle and decorate. 

      

     


    2. Use and Reuse Silverware

    We learned from our office manager, that our school paid about $20 for a case of 1,000 sporks. But we pay $3 for a package of 12 metal forks. In five years we would have paid $3,480 for sporks. But reusable metal FORKS? That’s just a one-time fee of $102. Reduce and reuse! 

     

    3. Upcycle Milk Cartons

    Station student volunteers near trash receptacles to remind young students to upcycle (creating new and better items from waste material). My students, acting as reduce, reuse, recycle monitors, rescued more than 150 milk cartons per day from the trash! Do the same and dump all traces of milk, wash and dry to create cars, fairy houses, beautiful plant containers, or candles from old crayons. Check out my post, "Make a STEM Gingerbread House to Light Up the Night," for a tasty upcycled craft.

     

    KIDS TURN TRASH...

    Amma and Phebe collected over 150 milk cartons in one day!

     

    INTO TREASURE!


    Sydney's Sustainable Flower Garden

    4. Start a Mini-Composting Center

    Look closely at the smiles and outstretched hands (pictured below) during a composting visit. Monique Dols, a talented colleague, has 4,000 composting worms in our school basement creating rich black soil from lunchroom scraps and teachers' lounge coffee grinds. For step-by-step info to start your own composting center for school gardens, see John DePasquale’s inspiring post, "Sustainable Classroom Farming."

     

    5. Fight Food Waste: Feed Food-Insecure Families

    Got leftover milk, fresh or packaged fruit and veggies, cheese, granola bars or yogurt? Don't trash it! Check out the USDA donation/recovery site to find organizations such as Food Bus or Food Rescue in your area. They'll help students organize collection and refrigeration of unwanted food items and deliver the goods to needy families.

    We also noticed that when older students were allowed to choose the food that they would actually eat instead of having certain foods foisted on them, the amount of uneaten food was reduced and, therefore, the number of trash bags per day declined. For more info and to grab a poster full of helpful tips below, see USDA.gov.

    Click on the infographic to get one for your school.

     

    Resources for Student Buy-In

    The activities above will be easier once you make students conscious of their carbon footprint. Have them follow the journey of a piece of trash to a landfill or a recycling center with Where Does the Garbage Go?  by Paul Showers. Hear a tin can talk about becoming a stadium or how a little juice bottle wants to be a bench in 30-second PSAs from the National Ad Council. Or grab Google cardboard to take a quick journey to a recycling center or a landfill.

    My students wrote a letter to Google requesting their help to get kids excited about the three Rs (reducing, reusing, and recycling) and Google granted our wish! They came to our school and recorded our recycling efforts. Check out our journey on Google's education blog then sign up for the Expeditions Pioneer Program to take a virtual tour of a recycling center or any other interesting spot in the world. 

    BXC students take a virtual trip to a landfill!

     

    **Special Thanks to Abigail Rivera, our school manager, who crafted the lead image on this post from trash in the tech room and staff lounge!

     

    My robotics team crafted our sustainable cafeteria as part of a First Lego League Challenge and presented the data involved for the presentation part of the competition. The math was double and tripled checked for the competition. After several observations, my students learned that each day, kids in our school cafeteria:

    • Produce six, 25-pound bags of garbage

    • Dump five gallons of milk

    • Trashed 100 unopened spork or napkin packets

    From their calculations they found that in less than a month, we had wasted enough sporks to reach from the bottom of the Empire State Building to the top!

    Save the planet before the next school year ends! Take the summer months to rethink and redesign a sustainable school cafeteria. Read on for inspiration and five practical ways to help kids make positive changes. 

     

    MAKING A SUSTAINABLE CAFETERIA

    1. Ditch Sporks — Use Napkin Dispensers

    In interviews with students, we learned most kids took spork packets just for the napkin — not because they needed a utensil. No napkin dispensers? No problem. Hit the dollar store or have kids cut a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 inch card stock to make a perfect square. Then fold one set of parallel sides towards the middle.


    Cut 4, two-inch slits.

    Fold the cut edges toward the middle to form a box.

    Staple corners. Attach handle and decorate. 

      

     


    2. Use and Reuse Silverware

    We learned from our office manager, that our school paid about $20 for a case of 1,000 sporks. But we pay $3 for a package of 12 metal forks. In five years we would have paid $3,480 for sporks. But reusable metal FORKS? That’s just a one-time fee of $102. Reduce and reuse! 

     

    3. Upcycle Milk Cartons

    Station student volunteers near trash receptacles to remind young students to upcycle (creating new and better items from waste material). My students, acting as reduce, reuse, recycle monitors, rescued more than 150 milk cartons per day from the trash! Do the same and dump all traces of milk, wash and dry to create cars, fairy houses, beautiful plant containers, or candles from old crayons. Check out my post, "Make a STEM Gingerbread House to Light Up the Night," for a tasty upcycled craft.

     

    KIDS TURN TRASH...

    Amma and Phebe collected over 150 milk cartons in one day!

     

    INTO TREASURE!


    Sydney's Sustainable Flower Garden

    4. Start a Mini-Composting Center

    Look closely at the smiles and outstretched hands (pictured below) during a composting visit. Monique Dols, a talented colleague, has 4,000 composting worms in our school basement creating rich black soil from lunchroom scraps and teachers' lounge coffee grinds. For step-by-step info to start your own composting center for school gardens, see John DePasquale’s inspiring post, "Sustainable Classroom Farming."

     

    5. Fight Food Waste: Feed Food-Insecure Families

    Got leftover milk, fresh or packaged fruit and veggies, cheese, granola bars or yogurt? Don't trash it! Check out the USDA donation/recovery site to find organizations such as Food Bus or Food Rescue in your area. They'll help students organize collection and refrigeration of unwanted food items and deliver the goods to needy families.

    We also noticed that when older students were allowed to choose the food that they would actually eat instead of having certain foods foisted on them, the amount of uneaten food was reduced and, therefore, the number of trash bags per day declined. For more info and to grab a poster full of helpful tips below, see USDA.gov.

    Click on the infographic to get one for your school.

     

    Resources for Student Buy-In

    The activities above will be easier once you make students conscious of their carbon footprint. Have them follow the journey of a piece of trash to a landfill or a recycling center with Where Does the Garbage Go?  by Paul Showers. Hear a tin can talk about becoming a stadium or how a little juice bottle wants to be a bench in 30-second PSAs from the National Ad Council. Or grab Google cardboard to take a quick journey to a recycling center or a landfill.

    My students wrote a letter to Google requesting their help to get kids excited about the three Rs (reducing, reusing, and recycling) and Google granted our wish! They came to our school and recorded our recycling efforts. Check out our journey on Google's education blog then sign up for the Expeditions Pioneer Program to take a virtual tour of a recycling center or any other interesting spot in the world. 

    BXC students take a virtual trip to a landfill!

     

    **Special Thanks to Abigail Rivera, our school manager, who crafted the lead image on this post from trash in the tech room and staff lounge!

     

Comments

Share your ideas about this article

My Scholastic

Susan Cheyney

GRADES: 1-2
About Us