Metal Silverware Makes a Comeback

The new silverware system in the cafeteria

The new silverware system, overtaking the plastic utensils / Photographer: Birdie Greening

By now many are familiar with the metal silverware system that has been in operation for about a month, and if you have not noticed any drastic changes, that probably means you were not too reliant on the plastic forks and spoons in the first place. The Environmental Club has been dreaming of plastic-free lunches for more than a year, but was not aware of the action needed for the dream to come to fruition. After several meetings with the kitchen staff and principal — and a generous donation from two environmentally-geared community members — lunches are no longer equipped with plastic utensils.

One of the issues the club discussed during meetings was the fact that students in the past had simply thrown away their metal silverware when given the opportunity to use it. Why would one think that metal is a single-use disposable item? Convenience and laziness were the only rationales they could think of. To counter these confusing misconceptions, the club simply decided there should be three different drop off bins for silverware, placed directly on top of the trash cans and in commonly used areas. One would have to be extremely careless to throw away their metal silverware rather than separate it into the designated bucket.

Why hasn’t this been going on in the past? One may think that this whole system is rather arbitrary. However, behind what looks like a smoothly-functioning system is a time-consuming process — one the club is very grateful the kitchen staff supports. The additional collection and washing of the metal silverware adds to the time the staff needs to prep for the following day’s meals. The Environmental Club counts out 70 forks and 20 spoons each day, and later counts the remaining utensils and the returned utensils. This data is being used to track how successful the collection system is working and to see what the loss rate is over an extended period of the system being in place. If the loss rate is high, the club will have to consider new ways to collect silverware and new ways to educate students about reusing and returning their silverware. This process is one that is necessary to eradicate as much single-use waste in our school as possible.