Students from Red Hook create Plastic Free Lunch Day, schools participate nationwide

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Wednesday, November 2, 2022
NYC students lead nationwide Plastic Free Lunch Day in schools
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New York City public school students created the first-ever Plastic Free Lunch Day and millions of students across the country participated. Naveen Dhaliwal has the story.

RED HOOK, Brooklyn (WABC) -- New York City public school students created the first-ever Plastic Free Lunch Day and millions of students across the country participated.

A class of 5th graders participated in a neighborhood cleanup where the students cleaned up plastic from area beaches and neighboring streets.

The amount of trash they picked up prompted them to take a look at how much plastic was being used at their school's cafeteria.

After two years of research, they discovered that their lunches used a shocking amount of single-use plastic.

They used their findings to create a day where that reduced the total school lunch waste by 99% by eliminating 558 plastic items.

Students at PS 15 in Red Hook were doing their part on Wednesday.

"We are serving things that are all able to be eaten with their hands, so the intention is planning our meals reduces the waste going into the waste stream," said Stephen O'Brien of the Department of Education's Office of Food and Nutritional Services.

Things like plastic utensils, straws, and plates were packages along with juice pouches, and chip bags-- all designed to be used once and then tossed out.

The students joined forces with Urban School Food Alliance and developed Plastic Free Lunch Day for 18 of the largest school districts in the country.

"All the factories keep making plastic and they need to stop because they are producing smoke too and it's not good for our lungs," 4th grader Jordyn Hudson said.

Collectively, the initiative served 4.2 million children across New York, Baltimore, Dallas, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Dekalb.

"I think we can make the planet much healthier if all the schools around the world and all the people do this around the world," 4th grader Eva Henry said.

Plastic-free lunch days will now be a monthly thing in participating city schools.

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