Get rid of single use plastic/styrofoam in the OCHS cafeteria

Get rid of single use plastic/styrofoam in the OCHS cafeteria

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Grace Kanavage started this petition to Oconee County High School and

In recent years, the Oconee County School District has switched from reusable lunch trays to single use styrofoam trays. These trays are convenient since they are cheaper per tray when compared to other, more environmentally friendly alternatives, as well as the fact that they are easily disposed of. They are seemingly perfect for the school’s needs, except that they’re not. In fact, these seemingly harmless trays are endangering our students, as well as contributing to the nations’ already packed landfills. It’s time for change. 

Styrofoam is non biodegradable and takes at least 500 years to decompose. If 50 OCHS students use 1 tray per day for 2 weeks, that equates to 500 trays. Those will then take at least 500 years to decompose, all the while more trays are accumulating. This scenario happens all over America, and the world, on a larger scale, producing millions of pounds of waste. Furthermore, styrofoam is produced using non renewable petroleum. In 2016, a Worldwatch Report stated, “About 4% of the petroleum consumed worldwide each year is used to make plastic, and another 4% is used to power plastic manufacturing processes.” This is a waste of energy, and means that the styrofoam cannot be recycled. In addition, styrofoam is harmful to the environment because it can, and does, cause many animals to choke. This harms the wildlife, also hurting our local ecosystems. It is evident that styrofoam is harmful to the environment, and has no place in Oconee County’s schools. 

As well as harming the environment, products such as styrofoam trays are harming our students. Styrofoam contains the neurotoxins styrene and benzene, which are widely accepted as carcinogens. These toxins are linked to Leukemia and Lymphoma, and leach into food that’s acidic, warm, alcoholic, or oily. After the trays are disposed of, the aforementioned toxins make their way into the soil, and eventually, back into Oconee County residents’ bodies. Styrofoam also contains Biphenol A (BPA), a harmful chemical that mimics estrogen in the human body. BPA has been shown to promote breast cancer, lower sperm counts, increase the risk of childhood asthma, etc. Some styrofoam claims to be “BPA-Free,” but has replaced BPA with very similar, and harmful chemicals such as BPS and BPF. Infants, small children, and expecting mothers are most at risk when in contact with BPA and other toxins found in styrofoam. In 2004, the CDC found in an experiment that 93% of urine samples contained traces of BPA. “Reproductive Toxicology” also found that, “Humans must be exposed to at least 10 times what the EPA has deemed safe because of the amount of the chemical (BPA) detected in tissue and blood samples.” Furthermore, the FDA itself has stated that all plastics leach chemicals into our food. This is extremely alarming that we are allowing our children to continue to eat off trays that could be endangering their health. 

In conclusion, styrofoam should be banned from the cafeteria of Oconee County High School. Not only is its use harming our environment, but our beloved children, friends, neighbors, and family. This is only one small action, but its implementation could help us gain traction on the fight against styrofoam, and other single use plastics. Oconee County High School is full of “Warriors,” and we will fight for what we believe in. Say no to styrofoam. Join our fight to switch OCHS over to biodegradable lunch trays! 

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