A Toronto elementary school has banned juice boxes from kids’ packed lunches. As a part of Ontario’s Litterless Lunches program, Jackman Avenue Junior Public School in Riverdale has told parents not to send their kids to school with the boxes. Instead, they should bring their drinks in reusable containers.
Jackman is one of Ontario’s Eco-Schools, which means that it not only teaches about green issues, but puts them into practice so kids grow up with good habits already instilled. Kids have a green schoolyard, a vegetable garden, and an outdoor classroom in the form of a stone amphitheater. The school has also replaced air-conditioning with ceiling fans, installed solar blinds, and has a recycling program.
However, recycling isn’t as good as not using packaging in the first place, which is why juice boxes have now been banned. “Kids don’t understand how to dispose of juice boxes. They put them in the garbage instead of recycling them,” wrote Principal Sullivan in a note sent to parents:
They put them in the recycling but forget to remove the straw. Wrong. They put them in the recycling but their (sic) still half full. Wrong. They leave them on the floor in the lunchroom. Wrong.
The kids have so far been told to take their empty boxes home, but now they aren’t allowed to bring them at all. Juice boxes are convenient, but they’re clearly bad for both the environment and for the kids. Children don’t need sugary drinks, and the landfill doesn’t need yet another box that was produced and shipped just to carry a few mouthfuls of the stuff.
The message is getting back to parents, too. Maria Saras-Voutsinas, member of the Jackman parent council, told the local news site Our Windsor that “I would never in a million years send my child to school (now) with anything other than reusable packaging. That’s been ingrained in me, being a parent at an EcoSchool.”
It might take a while, but in the future, generating too much trash and being wasteful in general, might become as socially stigmatized as drinking and driving, or smoking in a public place. And programs like the Litterless Lunch will have had a lot to do with that.
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