Greening ’Stoga members push for eco-friendly cutlery

Greening ’Stoga members push for eco-friendly cutlery

By Saktisri Gowrishankar, Staff Reporter

Greening ’Stoga Task Force is working to find ways to replace Conestoga cafeteria cutlery with eco-friendly options after a recent survey.

Greening ’Stoga Task Force is a club dedicated to promoting sustainability and environmental awareness. The club posted a schoolwide survey on Schoology on Feb. 27 to determine if students were supportive of re- placing cutlery in the cafeteria, using the results as evidence for the necessity of more environmentally friendly choices.

Senior Katie Hymel, club president and leader of the initiative, believes they can make the change.

“In 2019, Greening ’Stoga got rid of (plastic foam) in the cafeteria. It’s been done before, and I know we can do it again,” Hymel said. “I’m hopeful that we will have enough support, and we will put in enough work to make this change possible.”

As of March 28, Food Services Supervisor David Preston found that Conestoga uses 824 pounds of plastic utensils annually. Of the 434 student responses to the survey sent out by Greening ’Stoga, 84% said they were supportive of alternatives to plastic cutlery. The club had similar initiatives in the past, such as removing plastic foam from the cafeteria, putting more recycling bins in the atrium and reducing waste by recycling dried markers and pens. Principal Dr. Amy Meisinger is supportive of the club’s ventures.

“I think any efforts to conserve can only be helpful. You look at what’s happening in grocery stores with plastic bags going to brown bags, and all the things that are happening on a national scale, so I think any effort to turn the tide a little bit is certainly helpful,” Meisinger said.

The plan to replace utensils in the cafeteria is in its early stages, but Greening ’Stoga hopes to implement it at the beginning of the 2023-24 school year. The club is considering biodegradable materials, such as bamboo, as an alternative to plastic. Hymel and other club members are working with district administrators, namely Preston, to create a plan of action. Environmental science teacher and Greening ’Stoga adviser Kevin Strogen believes this collaboration is crucial in the club’s projects.

“You always need a partnership. You always need to work with administrators and those who make the decisions, in the cafeteria or the school, to achieve these goals we have,” Strogen said.

Increasing attention to climate change and pollution made communities more environmentally conscious. Students can help reduce our community’s impact by recycling, making eco-friendly choices and spreading awareness.

“Every generation, in some ways, makes better and better decisions—environmentally, at least,” Strogen said. “I think (that) at a young age, it’s important to be aware of these issues and try to enact change because I think (the next generation has) a lot more power than (they) think (they) do.”

Saktisri Gowrishankar can be reached at [email protected].