Editor’s Note: This is first in a “Kids Did” feature series by Suneet Bhatt, co-founder of Dream Village and Social Symmetry. This series will explore what kids are doing around the country to help their local community environment.
Times are changing. I went to elementary school in the early 80’s, and I remember participating in the shift toward the disposable society. Instead of Tupperware sandwich containers, I started getting plastic wrap. Instead of a Thermos I started getting Capri Sun (my main squeeze) or some other juice box. Everything was wrapped in plastic. And everything ended up in my stomach or in the trash can; sometimes directly, and sometimes by way of a ricochet off of say, the face of a close friend. Kids will be kids.
Everything we bought in the cafeteria was trending toward dispose-ability too: disposable lunch trays, plastic flatware, cardboard pizza. We were throwing more and more things out, and I was blissfully ignorant. I remember not knowing and not caring what happened to my trash when I threw it out. Thankfully, kids today are more aware and active than I.
Reason #1, why the future holds such promise: Margot Bloch (8-years old) and her friends in the Youth Activist Club at Piney Branch Elementary School in Tacoma Park, Maryland.
They have taken up the fight against such waste in their Elementary School Cafeteria by focusing on getting rid of Styrofoam trays and going back to the reusable, hard-plastic trays with a dishwasher. I read about them in a Washington Post article a few weeks ago and reached out blindly to see if they would be willing to speak with me. Margot and her mom, Nadine, were quick to respond. They agreed to answer some questions and share what they’re working on with me. Read the interview below and be inspired.
Margot, what are you and your friends at Piney Branch trying to do?
The Young Activist Club is trying to get rid of Styrofoam (polystyrene) trays in our lunch system at school. Instead we would like to buy a dishwasher and reusable hard-plastic trays. The dishwasher and the trays will cost a lot, but in the end, we will have saved a lot of money. Also, we help save the environment.
We have raised about $10,000 and gotten about 500 signatures on our petitions. We also got a resolution passed in our town. The PTA supports us and so do our state senators and representatives. 99% of the kids in our school signed our petitions!
That sounds like a great cause. It also sounds like you’ve made some great progress. What inspired you to get involved in this cause in the first place?
Since we are the Young Activist Club, we decided to work on something that would help the environment. Polystrene is bad for the environment because it is made out of oil, and when you use oil, it makes carbon go into the atmosphere which produces global warming. Global warming is bad for lots of living things, including polar bears and coral because the ice melts and the ocean gets hotter. Also, we wanted to work on something that would effect our school right here. That is how we picked Styrofoam trays.
Why is it so important for kids your age to get involved?
Because all kids need to know how bad polystyrene trays are for the environment. Also i think it’s good for kids to be activists too, and we need to get involved in things to help the environment that we live in. Because if you are a kid and you see something that is wrong you need to speak out to change it.
What advice do you have for other kids your age who may want to do something similar?
Other kids who want to do this should start a little group because the more people you have, the more you get done. You can all work on different parts of what you are trying to do. And lots of people might have different ideas that will help you change whatever you are trying to change.