Solana Ranch EnviroHawks promote Zero Waste Lunch Days at district schools

Solana Ranch EnviroHawks Kate Zhao, Alethia Li, Janet Yang, Sohini Sampath and Anita Qian with Solana Beach School District board members and the superintendent at the Nov. 14 board meeting.
(Jane Xu)

The Solana Ranch School EnviroHawks are keeping a watchful eye over plastic waste on their campus. The school club’s mission is to reduce waste and pollution and in June approached the Solana Beach School District board about getting rid of plastic spork packets used during school lunchtime.

The packets included a plastic spork, straw and a napkin in one plastic wrapper. As EnviroHawks explained, people would take one item and throw everything away. Thanks to the school board’s action, lunchtime has changed this school year at Solana Ranch. Now all of the items are separate so students only take what they need and, as a result, the school has less waste.

“We are grateful for that, it has saved a lot of plastic from going into the ocean,” said fourth grade EnviroHawk Sohini Sampath.

This year the EnviroHawks want to spread their environmentally-friendly message district-wide and went before the Solana Beach School District board on Nov. 14. to make their next request.

“I want to ask if all schools in our district can have a zero waste lunch education,” said student Anita Qian.

The first Friday of every month at Solana Ranch is a Zero Waste Lunch Day which means students just need to bring reusable utensils, lunch boxes and water bottles, making sure nothing gets thrown in the trash bin on that day. The school has a raffle drawing and everyone who participates in Zero Waste Lunch Day can get a ticket for a prize—the prize is usually a reusable snack bag or container.

“Can you imagine if everyone in our district had a zero waste lunch?” Anita asked. “Bit by bit, little by little, just because we wouldn’t be throwing so much trash away our world could become cleaner and better. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Let’s start here, let’s start now.”

EnviroHawk Alethia Li said in addition to a district-wide zero waste lunch campaign, the next step would be asking the district to use metal utensils at lunch. She said she understands it might be harder because they would have to wash the metal and get bins for the kids to deposit their utensils but she thinks it could be possible.

“I hope you will think about getting eco-friendly metal utensils,” Alethia said. “Who knows? Even this tiny step may leave a big impact on our world.”

SBSD President Julie Union thanked the students for their leadership and for coming to speak to the board, “It is always extra special to have students here,” she said.

SBSD Clerk Debra Schade said she would love to see the district take the opportunity to be a leader in developing a climate action curriculum. Locally, Ocean Knoll Elementary School in Encinitas recently switched to silverware from single-use sporks on their campus. That change was also led by student activists participating in the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program (SWPPP) internship.