Less Trash, More Chats!
We currently offer a program every 2 weeks where our students are able to meet in their grade-alike groups (we currently run triple graded classrooms) to socialize with their same-age peers. The purpose of this program is to boost student morale and sense of belonging, build and foster relationships, and reduce some of the anxiety that our students face day to day. We call this program “Snacks and Chats” because we always provide the students with a healthy and well rounded snack to enjoy together.
Our Student Leadership Council had noticed since we introduced this program that we go through a lot of disposable plates. We made the (expensive) switch from styrofoam plates to paper plates, but they have since decided they would like us to switch to reusable (washable) plates and utensils. We are proud of their insight and concern about the school’s sustainability practices and through this grant we were able to purchase enough reusable kitchen supplies (plates, bowls, cups, utensils) for our small school (55 students). We recognize that our school is quite small compared to others, but our students recognize that every small change can add up to making a big difference. In 2018, our school was recognized with a Regional Center of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development award because of the work we had accomplished with our outdoor learning space. The topic and importance of sustainability is nothing new for our students, which is showcased by our students’ awareness of our need for reusable kitchen supplies.
Students helped select different items to purchase that they thought would be used the most often. In the end, we purchased large plates for when we host community meals, small plates for our Snacks and Chats program, bowls, utensils (because students are always missing theirs in their lunch kits) and cups (to fill up with water when they forget their water bottle, rather than use a disposable cup since our water fountains have been closed due to Covid-19).
Once the products arrived, students washed and organized them so that they were ready for our next Snacks and Chats meeting.
Reflection & Celebration
Some of the students not involved in the planning part of this project were pleasantly surprised when they came to the kitchen and found reusable supplies. This sparked many natural conversations regarding why we chose to stop using disposable materials and how much better (and sturdier) the reusable materials were. It was a joy to see them engage in this conversation naturally with their peers.