Friday, May 1, 2009

Trashing the School Cafeteria

While folks in the film industry are trying to make film production more environmentally friendly, I've just seen signs of an opposite trend in New York City schools.

Last Friday, on my fifth substitute teaching gig, I found myself in a gloomy middle school basement cafeteria, where the trays are styrofoam, the utensils are disposable plastic, the floor gets covered with litter minutes after a janitor sweeps it, and even recyclables get tossed.

My forty minutes of cafeteria duty consisted mostly of gathering the kids' trays after they finished eating (or not eating), and tossing them, along with many uneaten apples.

Seems that this school instituted the teacher-as-busboy practice to prevent food fights, and according to the dean who told me about the policy, it's been working. "We've only had a couple of food fights since," he said.

Unfortunately, it's also teaching the kids that they're not responsible for cleaning up after themselves--a great addition to the model of environmental negligence that the failure to reuse and recycle provides.

I wonder whether teachers or students ever discuss the practices of their very own cafeteterias during the inevitable environmental unit--and whether there are any schools still using washable trays . . .

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