Students collect silverware to reduce waste

Aim to replace all plastic utensils with metal
By Louis Bettcher | Apr 11, 2018
Courtesy of: Malea Russell Left to right: Students Charlie Cooper, Frances Ostensen, Eleanor Greer, Malea Russell and Will Karod collect silverware for CHRHS.

Rockport — Students at Camden Hills Regional High School have begun a program which seeks donations of metal silverware from their classmates, teachers and members of the community in an effort to eliminate disposable plastic utensils from the school cafeteria.

The campaign has been spearheaded by students in the school's Windplanners group, an environmentally-minded team whose goal is to reduce the school and the community's carbon footprint. Led by science teacher Margo Murphy and facilities director Keith Rose, over the years the Windplanners have raised funds to provide the school with a wind turbine and a solar array.

This is the second year that the Windplanners have collected silverware for the school cafeteria. Although metal utensils have always been provided as an additional option to plastic, their goal is to replace the disposable knives, forks and spoons completely. Many students have also been involved in a hands-on composting program on campus, and have found both metal and plastic utensils in the otherwise organic material they sort through.

"Some students have always been faithful about what they recycle and how they dispose of their waste, but others tend to dump everything on their tray into the trash....Some items such as juice boxes are not recyclable. In an ideal world, everything on a kid's tray would be recyclable," said Murphy on April 11.

Malea Russell, a senior at CHRHS, said that the silverware drive was inspired by the composting system instituted two years ago, with the goal of reducing the amount of garbage the school paid to have removed from the property.

In the first year of their composting program, presence of plastic utensils and other trash in the material made the compost unusable. Even some metal utensils were mistakenly thrown away, so she and her classmates devised a plan to curb the problem.

"We have redesigned our composting stations which will include magnets to retrieve silverware and we are also composting all of our organic waste on site so we are able to sort and remove any stray contamination. Over time, more and more students have consistently been using the metal silverware. We are in serious need of a full supply of utensils for 100 percent implementation," said Russell on April 10.

The Windplanners have placed signs and donation containers throughout the high school, urging their classmates to drop off any metal utensils that can be washed and reused for years to come. The end result will likely be a cafeteria line where plastic has been replaced with a unique assortment of shiny silverware of all different designs.

"We thought that students would be more mindful of the silverware, because in our households and restaurants, using metal silverware is the norm. Why can’t it be normal in our school system as well?" said Russell, who adds that forks are the most commonly-used utensils and the most needed at this time.

Silverware may be dropped off at the high school, as well as at the Camden and Rockport Public Libraries, MidCoast Recreation Center, the PenBay YMCA, and the Hope and Lincolnville General Stores.

Comments (2)
Posted by: David C O'Brien | Apr 12, 2018 06:57

How can we support and where can we send in our contributions for this and other student based ideas?



Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Apr 11, 2018 21:16

What a creative, environmentally sound idea. Our young people will be our best, new future leaders.



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