ROCKPORT— The Camden-Rockport Elementary School ChangeMakers, a group of 12 third and fourth graders led by parent Katie Urey, have been on a mission to move the CRES cutlery from single-use plastic utensils to reusable silverware. ChangeMakers estimated that 600 pieces of plastic utensils are used at their school for lunch each day, costing the school about $1,000 per year.
As reported in the Related Story below, the ChangeMakers were on track to reach their $1,500 goal when, in the month of May, the group reached out to GoodWill NNE for additional donated silverware.
“Every school year we throw away more than 100,000 plastic utensils from the cafeteria.”- Cora Gates
“Every minute, one garbage truck worth of trash ends up in the ocean.” -Flynn Layton
“By 2050, the plastic in the ocean will outweigh the fish”- Acacia Widmer
“It takes more than 400 years for plastic to decompose.” -Keagan Urey
On Tuesday, June 4 Goodwill NNE dropped off approximately 500 sets of forks, knives and spoons for the school to use to help its sustainability effort. They came from the company’s warehouse, which received the donated cutlery from all over Maine.
“The ChangeMakers were initially able to collect about 600 pieces of silverware for the cafeteria, but in order to be successful, we were going to need more than 1,300 pieces,” said educator and leader of ChangeMakers, Katie Urey. “So with GoodWill’s donation, it has put us over the top. We have reached our financial goal and this project is now happening.”
She said that through the support of Food Services Director Susan Boivan and CRES principal Chris Walker-Spencer, the ChangeMakers project will start to be implemented in the next school year.
“We will now purchase eight trays that fit in the school dishwasher that will clean the silverware as well as some special industrial magnets that can be retrofitted to the cafeteria’s garbage containers so that silverware that is accidentally thrown away can be retrieved,” said Urey. So, with this equipment, along with the silverware donation, we hope to keep the silverware in use for many more years to come.”
In addition, the students created a video for the rest of the school to show them how to maintain the silverware.
GoodWill NNE regional sales director, Shawn Nichols said, “If all the people who donated their silverware to GoodWill knew that some of it ended up in this program, they would have been very happy about that.”
GoodWill NNE external communication manager Heather Reeves told the students that the utensils went unsold in GoodWill stores and before they were recycled, they were reserved for the ChangeMakers’ project, adding: “We all know that reusing something is better than recycling, so you guys actually helped us re-use the silverware and we can’t thank you enough.”
To that, one student, Isabelle Baker said in astonishment, “We’re helping you?”
Steeves answered, “You’re helping the whole planet.”
Walker-Spencer added, “It sounds like a ‘win-win.”
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org