Sidney 1 Six Sidener Academy scholars have joined forces
to combat waste and pollution in and around our schools through an innovative
push to discontinue the district’s use of Styrofoam trays. The group of fifth-grade
students is known as #JustTrayNo.


What started this student-run group just
might surprise you.


Through a required STEM project for the Sidener
Robotics Team, team coach and IPS parent Teresa Dodds challenged the students to
find ways to make their school eco-friendlier. A major component of the project
required the team to meet with an industry professional whose field aligned
with their project. After a brief consultation with Jim Poyser, executive director
of Earth Charter Indiana, the group decided to find solutions
to minimize their carbon footprint by identifying alternative materials for
school lunch trays. 


The students also met with Kristi
Hardin, IPS Budget and Efficiency coordinator, at the beginning of the project
to brainstorm ideas.


“As a district, we have increased our
recycling efforts by 4.5 percent within the last year and have seen huge
percentage jumps because all cardboard is now recycled,” said Hardin. “Sidener
is concentrating on a project to find alternatives for Styrofoam trays in the
district. The Food Service Department is researching replacement materials as


During their research, #JustTrayNo learned
that polystyrene (Styrofoam) trays are one of the leading causes of air
pollution, filling more than 25 percent of our nation’s landfills.


“It’s important to follow the three
R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle),” said #JustTrayNo. “Reuse so that you aren’t
wasting products by throwing them away. Reduce the amount of products thrown
away because things that are sent to the incinerator can release harmful
chemicals. And recycle to make new use from a product instead of sending them
to landfills.”


Students discovered that the best
solution to resolve this issue is to replace the current materials used for
lunch trays. #JustTrayNo and IPS leaders are currently discussing ways to link
with StyroGreen, a company that has presented possible solutions for recycling Styrofoam.



A possible pilot program could stem
from this partnership, with Rousseau McClellan School 91 likely to be the first to join the
pilot cohort. More information about this potential partnership is forthcoming
as planning develops.

Sidener scholars have truly wrapped their arms around this
project and have taken brave and innovative steps in the right direction. We
applaud their hard work and dedication and are looking forward to seeing more
from team #JustTrayNo!