Tahoe students get grant to eliminate Styrofoam trays

Madonna Dunbar
Special to the Bonanza
Eric Harssema's third-grade class at Incline Elementary.
Photos courtesy IVGID Waste Not |

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — In December, Eric Harssema’s third-grade class at Incline Elementary successfully petitioned the school administration to remove single-use Styrofoam food trays from the cafeteria and replace them with a reusable option.

The students conducted research on the effects of Styrofoam on the environment and human health, conducted a cost analysis on potential savings and wrote thoughtful and passionate letters.

The project was approved with school administration agreeing to purchase the materials needed for sanitizing reusable trays and approved staff for the job; however funding for the actual trays was an issue.

On Jan. 29, the students got the news the trays had been purchased through a $500 grant from IVGID Waste Not.

This effort at the school began three years ago. Styrofoam trays had been removed but then returned when wire service trays did not work out.

The school will now realize cost saving from avoiding the purchase of 27,000 disposable trays annually.

In addition, solid waste disposal costs are being reduced, going from five days a week to two days a week on dumpster services.

Never doubt a small group of smart and determined kids with a great teacher can make a difference.

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