It’s definitely back to school time, and that means there will be a lot of “greening” going on in the classroom.
Many schools around the country have a “Green Team” to teach students what to recycle in the cafeteria and promote various recycling and composting initiatives. But even before they get to elementary school, toddlers are exposed to these issues through television shows that have characters like “eco rangers” to teach kids about the importance of recycling, and what and how to recycle. Or, sometimes there are shows whose sole storyline is related to environmental issues, like “Peppa Pig” – all in the name of research! – on composting.
By the time the kids are on to middle school they are ripe for more detailed information, which is often tackled in science classes. By the time these kids finish high school and are on to college, they are young activists, often the impetus for packaging changes in cafeterias and on campuses. Of course, then they head off to work and watch out, corporate cafeterias!
So, what are we to do, if we want new generations to have a balanced, science-based education on foodservice packaging? That’s an interesting question and something we should all consider.
Perhaps there’s an opportunity for FPI to promote what others have done in this arena, like our friends at the Aluminum Association, American Chemistry Council and the American Forest & Paper Association. Or, what about what Keep America Beautiful’s Waste in Place or Recycle Bowl Competition and U.S. Composting Council’s Composting for Teachers and Students? All good resources, although perhaps not specific to foodservice packaging.
In that same vein, perhaps FPI needs to dust off and update its "Single-Use Foodservice Packaging Facts And Fun: Environmental Science Lesson Plans and Activities for the 7th and 8th Grades," which we created in the 1990s and have updated a couple of times since then. Surely that’s a good vehicle to educate and inform young minds.
Or, should we think about newer education channels like social media? That’s what all the cool kids are doing, right? How might we use our Facebook page or Twitter feeds to pass along educational nuggets to these sponges?
Another potential vehicle? How about our own packaging. We often talk about how foodservice packaging can help to communicate with customers. As brands look to message their kids meal packaging, is there an opportunity to partner with them on common marketing or messaging for the good of the entire industry?
I don’t have the answers, but I do think this is an area and a potential audience for outreach that FPI might think about. Have any ideas? I’d love to hear them (firstname.lastname@example.org)!