WESTERLY — A petition drive led by some of Westerly’s youngest students means that the town’s schools will be kinder to the Earth this year.
The students at State Street Elementary School wanted to move away from using disposable foam trays during lunch.
In the last school year, when they were in Marcy Bunte’s kindergarten class, they worked on a study unit called Our Earth.
“We were charged with how to make the Earth a better place,” Bunte said. The class learned, she said, that when plastic foam dinnerware is burned — “what happens?”
Declan Bother, 6, had an answer: “It makes a bad gas,” the youngster said.
The class petitioned Principal Audrey Faubert and the school’s lunch staff to change the trays from the foam type trays to plastic, which can be washed and reused.
Now, the students get their food served on trays made of hard blue plastic. The switch was made at all of the elementary schools in town, Faubert said. The changeover took place during the summer recess.
Faubert said Josh Brochu, food service director of the school’s meal vendor, Aramark, agreed to the change.
State Street School holds five daily lunch periods for its 300 students. Reviews by children using the new trays during the school’s first lunch period on Thursday were positive.
“I love it,” Haley Larkin, 9, said as she sat down to start eating with her classmates. “They don’t break, and it can hold a lot more stuff.”
Some of the fourth-graders had lunches of chicken patty sandwiches, green beans, chocolate milk and a snack.
“They don’t get bent as easy,” as the old trays, Penelope Johnson, 9, said.
The children are at the forefront of a new push locally to cut down on polluting materials.
The Westerly Town Council is considering regulating single-use plastic items such as balloons, straws and the bags found in grocery stores and other retail outlets.
In Stonington last month, the Board of Selectmen appointed an advisory committee that will look into banning or limiting plastic carry-out bags, takeout containers and straws.