Plastic Free Lunch Day USA 2022

Creating A

Plastic Free Culture! The original PLASTIC FREE LUNCH DAY initiative was spearheaded by a group of 56 fifth graders from PS 15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn, as portrayed in Cafeteria Culture’s award-winning documentary, MICROPLASTIC MADNESS. On that day, students reduced total lunchtime waste by 99% (from close to 100 pounds to 1 pound) counting 558 fewer plastic items. The PS 15 students, who participated in Cafeteria Culture’s EPA funded Trash Free Waters program, determined that a NY Citywide PFLD would reduce plastic lunch waste by 1 million fewer items per day.

What is Plastic Free Lunch Day? A day when school lunch is prepared without plastic! A campaign to dramatically reduce plastic use in all schools. An action day to reduce as much plastic as possible. Students take climate action in their school cafeteria. The initiative is the result of years of collaborative effort led by Cafeteria Culture, an environmental education non-profit dedicated to eliminating single-use plastics from public school cafeterias, in partnership with the NYC students and Department of Education (DOE) Office of Food and Nutrition Services (OFNS), a founding member of the Urban School Food Alliance, and Office of Sustainability.

On November 2, 2022, Cafeteria Culture and Urban School Food Alliance (USFA) are partnering up for the first Plastic Free Lunch Day USA, a national initiative to reduce plastic packaging in public school cafeterias and to protect student health and the environment. Public schools across the country are expected to participate in this inaugural national plastic free lunch initiative, including New York City (NYC), Los Angeles, and an additional sixteen of the largest US school districts that are members of the USFA. School lunch will be prepared without plastic or with a reduced amount of plastic on this day, providing a first glimpse of a plastic-free school cafeteria future. Schools everywhere are invited to participate by leading any plastic free free lunch action on November 2.

Most of the 400 million metric tons of global plastic produced each year ends up in landfills or in the environment. Plastics are burned in incinerators where they emit dioxins and other toxic gases, or they are sent to landfills where they release microplastics into our waterways and ocean, endlessly fragmenting first into microplastics then into nanoplastics–tiny particles that have been found everywhere on earth, including human placenta and lungs.

Watch the Microplastic Madness Trailer

Reducing plastic use advances US climate goals. If plastic were a country, it would be the world’s fifth largest emitter of climate-disrupting greenhouse gasses. Plastic begins as a fossil fuel and emits CO2 and other greenhouse gases at each step of its processing and use. Plastic even emits greenhouse gases as it ages and fragments. As the world begins to phase out fossil fuels, the petrochemical industry increasingly views plastic as its lifeline. In reckless disregard of our environment and our children’s health, industry aims to double plastic production by 2050.

Click here to participate and share your plastic free lunch action idea!

Cafeteria Culture works creatively with youth to achieve equitable zero waste, climate-smart school

USFA is committed to creating a culture within our organization that ensures an equitable experience for all stakeholders and equitable access to healthy school

Watch this video created by Cafeteria Culture in partnership with NYC DOE to see what the buzz was all about for the first New York Citywide Plastic Free Lunch Day in May, 2022.

communities and a plastic free biosphere. Our programs foster youth-led solutions by merging citizen science, civic action, media, storytelling and the arts.

meals for all students. In pursuit of this, we are committed to fostering a diverse workforce, board of directors and membership base and being intentional about including a diversity of voices in school food conversations.

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