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Carmel schools cutting out plastic cutlery

Carmel schools cutting out plastic cutlery

News 8 Daybreak at 8 a.m.

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) – A new initiative at Carmel Clay Schools is trying to teach kids about wasting plastic and they’re starting in the cafeteria.

At the start of the school year, food service staff switched out plastic forks and spoons for metal ones at Clay Middle School, West Clay Elementary and College Wood Elementary Schools.

Adults today may remember using metal silverware at lunch, but for the last 10 years, students have grown up without the silver spoon.

Jennifer McFarland, director of food and nutrition services, says the district switched to plastic for lunch-line efficiency and to cut the labor expense of cleaning and sorting cutlery. She says districts across the country made a similar switch, including adding disposable trays and cups, resulting in a lot of more garbage after lunch.

“Unfortunately in this generation growing up with tons of plastic, there’s tons of waste as well,” said Todd Crosby, principal at Clay Middle School.

A group of parents and district staff known as the Carmel Green Team proposed a change back to metal cutlery at the start of this school year.

“It’s almost like we are going back to time but at the same time we’re doing it smarter,” said Crosby. “Part of this whole initiative is to educate our kids. It’s fine to put silverware in a cafeteria, but [you must] explain why.”

At Clay Middle School alone, last year kids threw out 150,000 individual forks and spoons. That was initially a $2,500 purchase, according to McFarland. She says the switch to silver to go green, will save some green as well.

“We did not have to add any labor. It’ll be a cost savings,” she said, explaining that the students do the silverware sorting at the end of the meal, and the investment in metal cutlery is beneficial long-term.

WISH Photo

“If they leave middle school with the concept of how to recycle and reuse, then hopefully they’re expanding that out into the greater community of Carmel and to the State of Indiana and to the nation,” said Crosby.

Jackson, a 6th grader at Clay Middle School, answered immediately when asked why his school made the switch.

“Probably to save the turtles from eating all the plastic,” he said over his lunch.

The switch to spoons has created a stir on social media as well.

“It’s been a good dinner conversation,” said McFarland. “Kids are coming home saying, ‘Guess what we have real forks and real spoons!’ So they’re getting they’re parents involved in the conversation.”

McFarland expects more schools to follow suit beginning January 2020, particularly elementary and middle schools. She hopes to have the initiative district-wide in the next year or two.

Follow the progress of the Carmel Green Team on their social media account.


Colder and quiet rest of the week.

A good 20° swing this morning with temperatures in the lower to mid 20s this morning with feel like temperatures in teens. Will be a clear start then brighter heading through the rest of the morning and the afternoon! Sunshine won’t hep us out too much in terms of temperatures today. Day time highs should warm to the upper 30s. Tonight will be cold one with lows in the lower 20s with a partly cloudy sky.

Thursday will another cold one with highs struggling to reach 30°. It’ll still be a bright one with a mostly to partly sunny sky. A slow warming trend will start Friday with highs warming to the upper 30s with a mixture of sun and clouds.

This weekend will be split with a chance of showers arriving late in the day Sunday. Highs will continue to warm to the mid 40s Saturday with a partly sunny sky. Clouds return Sunday with showers later in the evening and overnight. Rain will continue through Monday. Tuesday looks to be a dry day for now then showers should return by mid week with highs in the mid 40s.