LETTER: Kudos to the BOE, Superintendent for their commitment to waste reduction, health of Greenwich children

Submitted by the Greenwich Sustainability Committee, Greenwich Conservation Commission, Waste Free Greenwich and Greenwich Recycling Advisory Board (GRAB)

Amid the myriad of decisions the schools and Board of Education have been faced with trying to keep our kids and staff safe and get them back into school, the issue of lunch packaging was up for debate. The question boiled down to which is safer, disposable lunch packaging or reusable wares. For most of us, on-the-fly thinking would conclude disposable wares would be best.

Fortunately, Dr. Jones and the BOE maintained their commitment to waste reduction and the health of our children and investigated the facts before making a decision.

The facts show there is slim to no greater risk of passing the COVID-19 virus on to fellow students and staff by using reusable wares (CDC.gov). This is great news for a number of reasons. The schools’ commitment and teachings to reduce waste remain intact. The virus, sometimes justifiably and sometimes not, has resulted in the generation of extensive amounts
of waste from single-use products. The consensus in the science community is that the virus is not readily spread through contact, thus there is no sound reasoning to require disposable wares for routine items, such as lunch packaging.

This is great news because reusable wares are less expensive to use overall and enable families to buy in bulk, saving the average family $400 per year, per child. This is an important savings for many families.

Reusable wares reduce or eliminate our children’s exposure to toxins, such as PFAS and styrene, which affect childhood growth, learning, and behavior, interfere with endocrine and immune functions, raise cholesterol levels, and increase the risk of cancer. And, with disposable lunch packaging accounting for some 67 lbs of garbage per student each year, reusable wares are a superior choice for responsible stewardship of this planet.

We hope parents will make the most of this decision and take the following steps to reduce or eliminate packaging waste.

Buy snacks in bulk and sort them into reusable bags and containers.

Choose reusable lunchboxes, sacks or containers for snacks, sandwiches, hot or cold foods.

Provide water and other nutritious beverages in a BPA-free reusable bottle.

And lastly, send a reusable napkin and utensils.

Kudos to Dr. Jones and the BOE. We all appreciate that you did your homework and resolved to pursue a waste free school system, while keeping your focus on the health and wellbeing of our children and staff.

Greenwich Sustainability Committee
Greenwich Conservation Commission
Waste Free Greenwich
Greenwich Recycling Advisory Board