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First Graders Make a Difference with Waste-Free Lunches

During the beginning of school last year, first-grade students in Brooke Donovan’s class conducted a classroom waste audit. “We took a close look at the amount of trash we generated after one lunch,” said Donovan. “Students counted the number of yogurt cups, plastic forks and knives, juice boxes, and other trash that we generated. Then they discussed what they could do to reduce this waste.”
 
The first goal was “no more plastic water bottles” and students brought in reusable cups and bottles from home. The second goal was no tin foil. This quickly morphed into students bringing in reusable lunch containers, utensils, and cloth napkins. After learning that Americans use millions of straws a day, they opted to “skip the straw.”
 
The students are so excited about the changes, said Donovan.  “I had students coming up to me and announcing, ‘Look my mom bought me a reusable spoon!’”
 
Donovan’s efforts in the classroom extended to other areas of the Lower School. This spring, Shipley’s Lower School announced “Waste-Free Wednesdays” as a way to start making changes and being more conscious about sustainability efforts.
 
Prekindergarten, kindergarten, and first-grade classes now have compost buckets for their fruit and vegetable scraps. Fifth graders pick up the classroom compost bins and take them to the compost tumblers just outside the cafeteria.
 
“There is a great connection to science,” said Dan Del Duca, Lower School Science teacher.  “Students can see the decomposition process happening within a few weeks.”
 
“I love watching the students begin to understand that they are part of the solution to reduce waste,” said Donovan. “It’s becoming second nature for them.” Just ask Shipley’s youngest students, they are happy to share their knowledge.
 
Want to learn more about Waste Free Lunches? Check out these resources.
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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.