July 13th, 2009

Media Monday: No Tray Left Behind

850,000 styrofoam trays are used and discarded each day in New York City public schools. That’s 4 million non-biodegradeable styrofoam trays a week!  To draw attention to this frightening issue, students in a 3D Studio class at Parson’s New School for Design created a sculpture entirely out of styrofoam trays taken from local New York City public schools.

Aside from the obvious environmental implications, styrofoam actually poses serious health risks as studies have shown that styrene, its main chemical, may leach into and contaminate hot foods, especially those high in fat (which seems to be most school cafeteria food).

According to the instructor of the course, Debby Lee Cohen:

McDonalds stopped using Styrofoam food containers in 1990. Brooklyn Council Member Bill De Blasio has introduced legislation to prohibit the use of polystyrene in New York City agencies and restaurants.

So why are NYC public schools still using styrofoam in schools?

Watch the video chronicling the students work and follow the links to learn more and get involved:

The Styrofoam (Used) Tray Project: No Tray Left Behind [project website]

Brooklyn School nixes Styrofoam carriers in lunchroom [Brooklyn Paper news story]

VIDEO:  4 Million Trays a Week [NY Times City Room blog]

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