Op/Ed: Let’s go back to using reusable trays in cafeteria

Liana Rice, Watertown Splash staff

Watertown Public Schools used to use reusable plastic trays for school lunches. Now we have reverted to using disposable styrofoam trays. It can be harmful to the workers manufacturing the styrofoam, and it is incredibly harmful to the environment.

Styrofoam is not biodegradable, which means that it can’t decompose. It can also last forever, so it is the main pollutant in the bodies of water across the United States. Styrofoam is causing wildlife to die because they can choke on it and die.

We use styrofoam trays at lunch. More than half of the WMS purchase lunch, so that’s over 300 trays every day! Every week WMS uses up at least 1,500 trays. That is too many.

Styrofoam is very dangerous to health as well. People that manufacture styrofoam are exposed to high levels of styrene, which is a chemical in styrofoam. Several epidemiologic studies suggest there may be an association between styrene exposure and an increased risk of leukemia and lymphoma. Short-term exposure can cause eye irritation and headaches. Long-term exposure can affect the central nervous system, causing headaches, fatigue, hearing loss, and depression.

For the benefit of the environment and manufacturers, we should revert back to reusable trays, and stop using the styrofoam ones.

I understand that washing over 300 reusable trays everyday is a lot of work, but it is a much better alternative to using styrofoam.

Sometimes the right way isn’t always the easy way.

–March 4, 2017–