East Bay 5th grader wants plastic utensils out of schools

LAFAYETTE, Calif. (KGO) -- An East Bay elementary school is making a difference environmentally with an idea that could soon ripple out to schools all across the Bay Area.

What if thousands even millions of plastic forks knives and spoons used in schools could be replaced with old-fashioned cutlery?

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Fifth-grader Julian Jackl said, "I noticed that 3/4 of the trash was plastic utensils and that really bothered me. So I talked to my principal and talk to my science teacher."

Jackl ended up teaming up with the PTA president, Neda Wilson, who oversees the lunch program who said, "He was so passionate and made such a compelling argument for why we needed to make this change for our school and our environment that it was hard to say no. "

A year later, 11-year-old Jackl's simple idea turned into reality at Burton Valley Elementary School in Lafayette.

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"We looked at compostables but it was cost prohibitive. We ended up pricing out the meal utensils and we learned in the long run it was actually a cost savings."

Their school lunch provider agreed to make the switch and the school installed a new sink for washing the silverware daily in the cafeteria. About 50,000 plastic utensils a year will stay out of a landfill because of just this one school. Others are interested. Wagner Ranch in Orinda is planning to implement a program as well.

If you ask Jackl what he's hoping for he says, "I'm hoping we can at least get this district wide and it would be amazing if I could go state wide."

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Wilson added it was easier to make the change than she thought it might be and hopes other schools follow suit.

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