The Case for the implementation of Disposable Lunch Trays at Athens Drive

Ava Darden, Design Editor

When scientists and technological developers envision what the world will be like in 500 years, they often dream of artificial intelligence and flying cars. While the boom of development we’re experiencing now may make those things possible, something much more notable will be taking place. The thousands of styrofoam trays used by students around Wake County today will finally fully break down.

In Wake County alone, roughly 51,000 students are provided with a free or reduced lunch. This figure does not include the other thousands of elementary, middle and high school students who purchase a school lunch, served on a styrofoam tray.

Styrofoam is notorious for outliving those that use it by hundreds of years, and although breakthrough solutions, such as the implementation of mealworms, offer solutions concerning the biodegradability of styrofoam, the quantity of styrofoam based trash outnumbers what could be eaten by mealworms in decades.

One solution is for school systems to switch over to biodegradable trays, which are made of sugarcane fibers and are microwaveable, refrigerator and freezer safe, impermeable and non toxic. Because these trays are made of plant fibers, they break down within  a series of weeks to months when exposed to the elements.

School systems, such as Wake County, make it their business to insure the future with the education of North Carolina’s students, but all these efforts are in vain if we don’t also work to keep the environment safe by using recyclable and biodegradable products.

While this transition can be expensive, change does not have to come as abruptly as it seems. Many schools around the country have implemented biodegradable trays for one day a week, seeking to make change more permanent, one step at a time.

Small changes such as compostable trays may seem like only a drop in the ocean of environmental awareness, but small changes inspire larger ones, and Wake County may one day set the standard for the implementation of greener practices.