Plastic is out and reusables are in at school on a mission to reduce trash

East Honolulu school goes green with culture shift in the cafeteria

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s lunch time at Mary, Star of the Sea School in Kahala and plastic forks and water bottles are nowhere in sight.

Instead, the kids use stainless steel trays and utensils.

Parent Carolina Veith spearheaded a recycling program at the school after moving from Germany, a world leader in recycling, and seeing the waste in her children’s school.

“I noticed they were still using plastic forks, plastic water bottles, paper trays and everything and I thought, wow that can’t be,” she said.

So she proposed a “Going Green” campaign and in two months, the school started sorting with the help of its yellow-gloved cafeteria rangers and colored bins; green is for green waste, yellow for recycling and red for trash.

There are also water stations for students’ water bottles.

“Knowing that I had someone to work with who shared that same passion, it was a no brainer to jump on board and say let’s do it,” said Principal Margaret Rufo.

The kids are fans, too.

“I love it and I also enjoy helping people sort the food,” said Veith’s son, Vincent, a fourth grader.

The students also use a scale to weigh the trash and calculate their output.

They’re generating about 20 pounds a week in trash, from 95 before the changes.

Mary, Star of the Sea hopes other schools go green. The school composts its green waste and also bought a dishwasher.

"For us that's most important is that mindfulness that we are teaching the students about waste and also about saving money,' said Rufo.

It’s a real-life lunchtime lesson that no book could teach.

Copyright 2019 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.