ARMONK, N.Y. – North Castle resident Allison Miller wants Coman Hill, Wampus elementary schools and H.C. Crittenden Middle School parents and students to pack healthy lunches — not only for themselves, but also for the environment.
Monday represented the beginning of “Waste Free Lunch Week,” an imitative that will run through Friday and hopefully, Miller says, always thereafter.
“The idea is to treat the cafeteria like a state park,” said Miller, whose children attend Coman Hill and Wampus in the Byram Hills School District.
“We want kids to bring out what they brought in — zero waste. We know we can’t expect 100 percent the first time, but we do feel that by packing reusable containers instead of plastic baggies, foil, plastic wrap and single serving pouches, it will reduce the amount of unnecessary garbage,” she said.
Miller, who said she’s always had an interest in being “green,” got the idea for the campaign from working with kids in a nursery school and summer camps.
“It would pain me to throw away so much leftover food and plastic containers from their lunches and snacks,” she said. “So I started to research ways on how to reduce waste in schools, and the information was inspiring.”
Miller discovered that some schools have reduced their garbage from 30 bags a day to only four. She also believes the change will be more dependent on the parents than the kids themselves.
“I think the kids will love it,” she said. “Kids have a natural desire to be good to earth. I think that parents need to be much more eco-friendly — they’re the ones who buy the food and pack the lunches.”
A letter recently sent to Bryam Hills parents about Waste Free Lunch Week explained the thought and motivation behind the movement. It also offered packing hints to be successful and suggested websites such as reuseit.com, mightynest.com, lunchskins.com, thermos.com, kleankanteen.com and wastefreelunches.org to help lunch packers and eaters make a smooth transition.
While Waste Free Lunch Week aims to represent a change in the school district’s lunch-eating habits, it is only the first step of a bigger end-goal of being completely eco-friendly.
The next step?
Composting — a multi-step, closely monitored process with measures of inputs of water, air, and carbon and nitrogen-rich materials.
“Compost is a big item on our agenda,” said Miller. “We plan on having some professional composters come in and educate the kids, teachers and parents next month.”
Until then, it’s one step at a time.
“We want to teach the kids how important it is to reduce the amount of waste they produce. If we start in school, hopefully it will spill over into their home life, and it will spread like wildfire, until it is second nature,” she said. “We need to take care of our community and keep it safe and healthy for future generations!”