Most students, if asked, would probably say the last thing they want to do with any part of their school lunch is recycle it.
But in Ohio, students are helping to collect polystyrene lunch trays that will be used to build an information center at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
The zoo and the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio organized the drive. The center, to be called "My House," will include a habitat yard, a barn, and displays. It will be built of panels made from cement and the shredded remains of the recycled trays.
Nancy Hampson, the director of conservation education at the Columbus Zoo, sees the project as a good way to inspire people to follow the zoo's slogan of "reduce, reuse, recycle."
Forty elementary, middle, and high schools in the Franklin County area have chosen to participate by collecting their lunch trays. Their goal is to recycle more than 200,000 trays by the end of the year.
Zoo officials expect the building to open in a year. The solid-waste authority has donated $500,000 toward the $2.5 million cost.
Park Street Middle School in Grove City, Ohio, has been collecting trays for about a month, and Brad Adams, the assistant principal, has noticed a difference.
No longer do trash cans dot the cafeteria where most of the school's 790 students eat their meals. Two trash cans sit strategically placed at the cafeteria exit for easy recycling.
In addition, the tray collecting has reduced the amount of the daily trash load from 21 bags to seven.
"The students are getting very good at this," Mr. Adams said. The school plans to continue collecting trays for recycling when the programs ends next month.
—Adrienne D. Coles
Vol. 20, Issue 11, Page 3