Whenever I read about school lunch reform in the U.S. (as I do often), I’m struck by how rarely people mention the environmentally unfriendly disposable styrofoam trays that so many school meals are served on in that country.
I realize, of course, that there are many things that need to be changed with school lunch, and the trays may not be at the top of everyone’s list of priorities. But, really, getting rid of these non-biodegradable, chemical-leaching menaces seems like such a relatively straightforward and obvious thing to do.
But now there’s a grassroots group in New York called Styrofoam Out of Schools NYC (SosNYC) that’s taken on the fight.
According to SosNYC:
“public schools have been throwing out 850,000 polystyrene (Styrofoam) trays per day (except for Tuesdays, as of March 2010), totaling 153,000,000 trays per school year, for over 18 years. This adds up to approximately 3 billion polystyrene trays since the early 1990’s when NYC schools first started using Styrofoam trays.”
The group has calculated that stacked up, the trays would be two miles high—8.5 times the height of the Empire State Building.
And that’s to say nothing of the chemicals— benzene and styrene —(the latter of which has been linked to cancer) in the trays themselves.
SosNYC is working to get kids and parents involved in expanding the successful Trayless Tuesday initiative as well as lobby politicians to get styrofoam out of schools altogether. You can follow their work and support the struggle by going to their very informative website.