Local students lead effort to eliminate plastics in the district

A group of Albuquerque schoolkids is following in the city’s footsteps working to get rid of plastics. They’re starting with their own school, specifically their cafeteria.

A group of sixth-graders at Jefferson Middle School hopes that one day, all Albuquerque Public Schools will be plastic free. They’ve started a petition at their school to get the ball rolling.

“I think the starting small in the APS community is a stepping stone for going bigger,” says Penelope Loyd Sment. 

The students asked the school board to start with getting rid of plastic utensils. 

“We wanted to do metal reusable utensils,” Sment says. 

In a class research project, they found 90 percent of Jefferson’s 800 student population eats cafeteria lunch; and each week, 1,440 utensils are being thrown away 

“Many of the students don’t even use the utensils, they are just thrown away,” says Emily Watkins.

According to their research, switching to metal reusable utensils would save their school $4,000 in the first year. However, because their school doesn’t have a dishwasher, they presented other options to the school board. 

“There’s also biodegradable utensils, which doesn’t cost waste and we don’t have to wash them,” Sment says. 

So far, more than 400 students have signed their petition, 

“Many people agreed to sign it, but a lot of people refused to because of germs or the cost,” Watkins says. 

Still, the students say they won’t stop until they reach their goal of 500 signatures. 

“This is a great example of what children are capable of doing,” says English-Language Arts teacher Leslie Richard. 

Back in December, a group went to city council and requested legislation banning plastic bags in the city. They were also from Jefferson Middle School. 

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