Talking Trash

Over the past few months, many students carelessly litter the campus. The newly constructed TL campus is being littered more than ever, with items from whole fruits to milk cartons to plastic wrappers. Food items provided by the school are individually packaged in single-use wrappers or containers, with the exception of fruits. Cleaning up this packaging is the sole responsibility of students, but recently has been left for staff to clean up. The source of this issue stems from the amount of packaging and students’ lack of respect for the campus and staff.  


Several students are concerned about this problem. Sophomore Samantha Garcia, said, “It’s sad how messy the school looks.” Maria Lopez, also a sophomore, stated, “We can take better care of the building.” Samantha and Maria think that giving out rewards to students who help keep the campus clean could encourage students to stop littering. Maria says that a raffle may be a good incentive for students. Students could help pick up trash around campus, and receive three raffle tickets every time they do so. She suggested that prizes such as _ would be fun for students to get a chance at winning. 


The single-use food wrappers may be a driving factor of littering, as having more items to litter could contribute to students’ likelihood of doing so. Many students are in support of using reusable utensils and trays instead of disposable packaging. “Single use plastic items can cause a lot of unnecessary waste around the TL campus,” says sophomore Sonia McKenzie. Students also believe it would alleviate the littering issue. Susannah Reibel, a sophomore at TL, said, “with less packaging, there would be less to litter.” 


However, finding a way to serve food with reusable items is extremely challenging. Alan Downing, director of San Rafael City Schools Nutrition Services, explained that the new kitchens aren’t meant to support silverware or reusable trays. It would take an extensive amount of time and labor to wash, and extra space would need to be provided. In addition, serving individually wrapped food items are safer to eat and can be served in a more efficient manner. The area in which food is served is “designed to support a self-serve meal service,” Mr. Downing said. “The use of individually wrapped items is for the benefit and safety of everyone.” 


Yet the source of this problem originates not only from the food or packaging, but from the students. Principal Dunlap said students may “not be used to high school culture” after not being on campus for some time due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Students may also be abusing the privileges of free food, taking it more for granted than if they paid for it. 


Ms. Dunlap is open to incentives to decrease the amount of littering. These could include having an extra school dance or her doing the ice bucket challenge. This issue is one that many on campus want fixed. It is up to students to stop leaving trash around the campus, whether they are given incentives or not. Whichever way this problem can be solved, Ms. Dunlap said she “wants to address it in a positive manner.” 


Let’s clean it up, Trojans!