Atlanta/ Community & Society
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Published on May 21, 2024
Decatur Fifth Graders Advocate for Sustainable Lunch Trays at School Board MeetingSource: Google Street View

In a bid to curb environmental waste, three fifth graders from Fifth Avenue Upper Elementary School in Decatur made their voices heard at a recent school board meeting. The young environmentalists, Bonnie Parker, Calan McGinnis, and Yeats Yarbrough, presented an argument against the use of single-use Styrofoam lunch trays currently utilized in their school, urging the board to consider more sustainable options.

Armed with a petition sporting over 340 signatures from different schools, the trio outlined their concerns to the Decatur School Board on May 14. They discussed the large volume of waste generated, "We have noticed that our school produces a lot of trash every day, around 300 Styrofoam lunch trays," Parker said, according to a WABE report. The students also pointed out that, despite claims, these trays are not being recycled. "They just all go into one big trash can," Yarbrough told WABE.

The fifth graders didn't just bring problems to the table; they came equipped with solutions. They proposed the reintroduction of reusable trays or the adoption of compostable ones. McGinnis suggested that these compostable trays could even contribute to enriched soil for school gardens. Parker mentioned alternative fundraising ideas to help schools afford the transition, showing initiative beyond their years.

The school board, typically silent during public comments, praised the students for their presentation. "They were professional. They were courteous. They were inquisitive. Just the emails alone brought me faith in our students and all that, they can accomplish when they set their mind to it," board chair James Herndon said, as he assured that the administration would further discuss the proposal with the students.

These young activists are hoping their efforts will inspire others to take action to protect the environment. "This Earth is the only planet we have to live on right now, and I want to save it," Yarbrough told WABE. Parker also shared eco-friendly tips, such as using silicone bags, reusable containers, and water bottles to reduce waste. The City Schools of Decatur were contacted for comment on the lunch tray issue but have yet to respond.