Students inspire pilot environmental program
Northville Elementary School in New Milford this week launched a pilot program to reduce waste.
The program aims to eliminate the need of having both plastic forks and spoons in the cafeteria.
Instead, sporks have been introduced.
The idea was conceived in mid-December by students in Doranne Koval’s second-grade class during their opinion writing unit.
“The kids did a really amazing job,” Koval said.
The pilot program to replace forks and spoons with sporks began Tuesday and will continue through Valentine’s Day.
At that time, students will survey staff and fellow students to find out how the sporks were received.
“We believe New Milford Public Schools should switch to using sporks instead of both spoons and forks because it will be better for our environment, cost less and be easier for students and cafeteria staff,” the students summarized in a poster-sized project book they presented to Northville administrators and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kerry Parker in recent days.
“I’m impressed with what you wrote,” Parker said last Friday during her visit to Koval’s classroom. “A lot of work went into this presentation. You surveyed the entire school.”
Koval said students discussed a variety of topics at the start of the writing unit.
At first, about eight students latched onto the wastefulness of having forks and spoons in the cafeteria. Soon after, the entire class of 19 agreed.
The project blossomed in a matter of weeks.
Students researched the impact of plastic on the environment, explored alternative options and outlined the proposal’s cost savings.
“Since plastic is made from gas and oil, using less plastic should save us gas and oil for our cars and heat for our homes,” Jonathan Perdigoto wrote.
Emma Russell described the impact of plastic on animals.
“Scientists have found tiny plastic in animals that have died,” she wrote. “Sporks will reduce the amount of plastic that we are using. This will be better for the animals.”
They compiled their essays and data in a book and presented their proposal to Principal Gwen Gallagher and Director of Food Services at Northville Sandra Sullivan Jan. 10 and Parker Jan. 17.
During the classroom presentation with Parker, students exhibited several utensil options.
Among them, a spork wrapped in a plastic sleeve and a cloth bag with reusable utensils, including a fork, knife and spoon.
The sample bamboo utensils were shown to the students by a representative from the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority, who saw the students’ presentation Jan. 10 while visiting the school.
Parker plans to visit Northville and dine with the students during the pilot spork program.
In their presentation, students explained the cost savings of using sporks and the ease of use for staff and students.
They priced sporks, forks and spoons on Amazon and worked out the cost effectiveness.
One student discovered the total for a box of forks and a box of spoons was $28.24, whereas a box of sporks costs $10.65. That’s a cost savings of $17.59, the student wrote.
Chelsea Whaley suggested using the “money we save (using just sporks) to buy food from local farmers and help our community.”
Maira Lateef wrote how the use of sporks “will make it easier for students to hold their tray and utensils because they only need one of two utensils - a spork and a knife.”
In her essay, London Na emphasized how a spork can even be used for soup.
“You can scoop the broth and poke the chicken with a spork,” she said. “There’s no need to switch utensils, so it saves time.”
Should the use of sporks be received well and implanted permanently, students have suggested what to do with the excess forks and spoons.
Suggestions included using them up before sporks are used all the time and donating them to other schools or organizations that may need them.
The students aren’t just thinking green about sporks.
They also suggested having a recyling bin on hand to collect utensils “so the plastic can be used for something else,” getting rid of straws and starting a program that includes students bringing their own resuable utensils and washable napkins from home and getting a discount on snacks.