L.A. Middle School Kids Win District-Wide Styrofoam Ban

Almost three years ago, kids in the Environmental Studies Magnet program at a Los Angeles-area middle school started an art project to call attention to their school districtís use of Styrofoam lunch trays.

In response to those efforts, John Deasy, Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second biggest school district in the nation, this week announced a styrofoam ban on all products throughout the district.

At a press conference held at Thomas Starr King Middle School, Superintendent John Deasy commended the students for their commitment to the environment, and stated his next goal was to inspire the rest of the nationís school districts to follow suit.

Hooray for students and teachers using grassroots activism!

The idea for an environmentally-friendly lunch service began when students at the school were assigned the task of carrying around their own trash for one week.† Good.is reports that the kids were able to see first-hand how much of their own trash was made up of disposable plastics, especially the Styrofoam trays from their school lunches. To make the waste even more obvious, they built a Styrofoam ďmonster,” constructed out of the 1,500 trays typically thrown out in a single day.

In response to the sight of all that Styrofoam, and recognizing that Stryrofoam just doesn’t decompose, students began a letter-writing campaign, involving their parents and local businesses, and targeting school board members and district officials. They urged the LAUSD to enact a district-wide Styrofoam ban, and replace their disposable lunch trays with reusable versions.

LAUSD uses about 40 million trays a year. The new paper tray is about 3 to 4 cents cheaper per unit and saves the district about $5 million to $6 million. So everybody wins!

From KTLA:

City Councilmember Paul Koretz praised the students, also bringing attention to a bill in the senate to ban polystyrene state-wide.

“Our legislators can take inspiration from the wonderful students and parents of Thomas Starr King Middle School, who successfully called for LAUSD to change its policies and practices regarding polystyrene food trays, making LAUSD even more of an environmental leader among educational institutions,” Koretz said.

Environmentalists say banning the containers would help reduce waste issues, taking decades to break down.

Styrofoam is often mistaken for food or prey by seabirds, marine mammals, fish, and sea turtles.

Wednesday’s announcement follows the 2009 ban on polystyrene food containers in Los Angeles city buildings and a county-wide ban in 2010.

The LAUSD ban takes on added significance in the next few days as state legislators vote on a bill to ban polystyrene food containers statewide. 65 California cities and counties have already banned polystyrene food containers and Senate Bill 568 would expand the ban statewide.

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Photo Credit: juliacsmith


W. C
W. C29 days ago

Thanks for the information.

William C
William Cabout a month ago

Thank you.

Kai S.
Kai S5 years ago

Good for them! I can only hope that more of the children world wide adopts this environmental mind set. These students are smarter then most adults, that's for sure.

Ian Brown
Ian Brown5 years ago

Well done the students in LA - now can we have this rolled out in every state in the USA and every country in the world - I hate styrofoam and refuse to buy any thing served in a styrofoam container.

Dave C.
David C5 years ago


these kids are great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I hate styrofoam and refuse it everywhere possible......

Silvia van der Zande

I hate Styrofoam !! refuse anything sold on styrofoam

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright5 years ago

These kids are obviously much smarter than most adults to recognize and want a solution to the scourge of styrofoam. They are concerned about the future we are leaving them, as they should be. We've done a very poor job by desecrating this planet and killing the other species with whom we need to coexist.

We need a worldwide ban on this and plastic water bottles and bags also.

Kudos to these brilliant students!

christina tenazinha
christina t5 years ago

What wonderful news. It does make me think what on earth is wrong with proper plates that can be washed but then maybe I am from a different time and country. Here in Portugal the children still eat of plates and drink from glasses.

Yvette S.
Yvette S5 years ago

Great news story,thanks for the article

Sandi C.
Sandi C5 years ago

hope it doesn't stop there!