About 200 Eagle Hill Middle School students pledged to have “waste free” lunches Jan. 13-17, which students designated as Waste Free Week.
Waste Free Week was the initiative of two eighth-grade students enrolled in the school’s Agents of Change elective course. In 2018, Eagle Hill and Wellwood middle schools both began offering the 20-week elective. As part of the class, students identify a community need or issue and work together to generate a solution. They collaborate on discussions, perform research, set goals and craft action plans in support of their case.
In addition to the Waste Free Week project, Eagle Hill Agents of Change students are working on projects related to extending the Enders Road sidewalks to the Route 92 intersection; adding a mental health component to the F-M website’s Anonymous Tips form; raising awareness of the local refugee population; and educating and sustaining the bee population and pollinators.
“They realize they have the ability to make a difference,” said Vanessa Rose, who teaches the Agents of Change course at Eagle Hill.
Throughout the course, students practice their communication and project management skills, Rose said. They send emails, make phone calls, write letters and set goals and deadlines. Upon successful course completion, students receive one-half credit towards high school graduation.
In the fall, Lily Pierce and Hilary Loh looked at ways they could make the Eagle Hill cafeteria more sustainable in general, with Waste Free Week serving as the culminating project.
On Jan. 10, Hilary and Lily, with help from Agents of Change classmate Cooper Broddus, set up a table outside the school cafeteria where they handed out reusable aluminum snack containers to students who signed a pledge to try and make waste-free lunches the following week.
“We care about the planet, and we wanted young people to find ways to make a difference,” Hilary said.
To support the project, the students requested funds from the Eagle Hill Middle School Home and School Association and used the $391 grant to purchase the nearly 400 reusable containers they handed out.
The school’s Hornet’s Nest store donated about $85 to the project so the students could brand the containers with F-M hornet logo stickers. Each student who signed the waste-free pledge received a container to help with their waste-free endeavors.
Hilary and Lily also created a tip sheet on reducing school lunch waste, which included ideas such as using washable sandwich bags or wax paper bags.
They also worked with Eagle Hill Family and Consumer Science teacher Robin Brenner to run an after-school activity during which about a dozen students made reusable beeswax wraps.
The district’s 2019-22 Strategic Plan includes a focus on teaching and learning, with an emphasis on supporting students in becoming self-directed learners by providing opportunities, such as the Agents of Change course, that promote student engagement and allow for student voice and choice.
Waste-Free Lunch Tips
- Skip the Ziploc. Put snacks like fruit or crackers in reusable containers.
- Use small mason jars for things like yogurt and salads.
- Use a washable sandwich bag or wax paper bags.
- Skip individually wrapped foods.
- Pack metal utensils in lunches rather than disposable plastic ones.
- Bring fruit that comes in its own natural wrapper (oranges, bananas, apples, etc.)
- Wrap food in cloth napkins, which can then be used as napkins!
- Use a reusable water bottles instead of plastic drink bottles.
- Upcycle disposable containers into snack containers.