TOW implements Waste-Free Wednesdays

Many Top of the World Elementary School students said goodbye on Wednesday to one-time-use plastic bags, brown sacks and Lunchables.

Instead, students came with colorful lunch boxes, Tupperware of all sizes, and a few kids even had Tiffins.

"I was really surprised," said student council member Spencer Collins, 11. "I thought there was only going to be a couple of kids, but there was like 80. There was a lot of kids. We should keep doing it."

The K-5 school kicked off its newest Green Team initiative, Waste-Free Wednesdays, to encourage kids to live more sustainability at least one day a week.

"We're encouraging the children to bring lunches in things that are waste-free," said parent Kimberly Leeds, who also is the Green Team chairwoman for the school's Parent Teacher Assn.

The student council members were on the lookout at lunch for their peers who were following the waste-free guidelines. They handed out special tickets to those who did. The tickets give students a chance to win prizes in drawings and a special T-shirt designed by fifth-grade student Malin Glade.

"It will be exciting to see my classmates wear it," said Malin, who won a design contest.

The T-shirts are sponsored by Hobie Sports owner Mark Christy, who has pledged one T-shirt for every student and teacher who participates. The Laguna Beach resident has also promised a surprise at the end of the year, Leeds said.

The Laguna Canyon Foundation is also supporting the program by donating prizes throughout the year, like maps and Keep it Wild T-shirts, that students can win by earning raffle tickets for participating after they earn the first T-shirt.

Leeds, a long-time naturalist and educator, came up with the idea for Waste-Free Wednesdays.

She said most one-time-use containers are plastic, which are petroleum-based, and that finite resource should be reserved for more important uses. Plastic also isn't recycled enough and ends up in landfills and waterways, where it stays forever because it isn't biodegradable, Leeds said.

"We have to make some changes, and this is a good start," she said.

Fifth-grade student Kendra Nugent, 10, brought her lunch in her usual purple lunch pail, but instead of plastic baggies, she used the rarely used Tupperware her family already had.

"It's fun and a way to make sure we don't have waste," Kendra said. "I'm going to try to do it every day."

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World