Project image card - click to select this 12 hour project. Image shows close up of a plastic spork.
12 Hours

Photo credit: Ashley Contreras

Your mission

Transition your cafeteria away from spork packets.

Time Commitment: 12 Hours

Range of Impact: School

Why this Action is impactful

In many schools across the US, spork packets are everywhere at lunchtime. Spork packets are wasteful for many reasons, which we’ll get to in a moment. Luckily, there are simple ways to reduce that waste, and save your school some money.

What to know before getting started

Spork packets usually include a plastic spork, straw, and napkin, encased in a thin film wrapper.  These spork packets are so wasteful for the following reasons: 

  • Often, only one item in the packet is used, with the rest simply thrown away. For example, if the only way to get a napkin is to take a spork packet – students might grab a bunch if they need lots of napkins, and throw away all the unused sporks and straws! 
  • Cafeterias often place a packet on each tray, regardless if the person needs it.  
  • None of these plastics get recycled in traditional recycling programs, whether the items are separate or if they are thrown away still bundled up without being used (check out Recycling Realities to learn why). 

Here are some easy ways to make your school cafeteria less wasteful, and to save your school money by buying less, and throwing away less.  

  • Put sporks at the end of the cafeteria line, so students only take one if they need it.  
  • Offer napkins separately. Place a sign to remind students to only take what they need.  
  • Considering supplying straws only on request to reduce straw use.  

What to do

  1. Do a study of your cafeteria or lunch area to find out how utensils, napkins and other single use items are distributed at your school. 
  2. Optional: Find out from your cafeteria manager, how many of these items get used per week at your school, and how much this costs the school.  
  3. Outline your argument: Write out the findings from your study, and outline your suggestions for the school, using the tips above.   
  4. Set up a petition to gather student support.  
  5. Present your plan and petition to the school administration to ask them to do their part to support and initiate these changes!  

  Download this CAFETERIA AUDIT WORKSHEET to help you through the process. 

Tips and Suggestions

  • Many schools and districts have long term agreements with their food and utensils suppliers so it might take a while to see the changes take place. Don’t despair, instead, ask your school to commit to making the switches as soon as their contract is ready to be renewed. 
  • Your school might be controlled by rules at the district, city, or state level, which can make any changes hard to accomplish. But many schools have succeeded in making huge changes – so don’t give up!
  • Health and safety are important topics for school nutrition departments. Some departments might be hesitant to get rid of wrappers around sporks, but solutions like putting sporks in dispenser units or upside down in a cup are often implemented with success.
  • Your efforts might inspire further action at your school or even district! – Many school districts have managed to move away from foam trays and single use condiment packets, too.
  • Share tables and coolers are another incredible way to reduce waste and make sure everyone gets enough to eat.
  • Use any momentum you build to go even further!
  • Creating signs or holding an assembly, are great ways to update everyone about how to use the new system! Keep it short and fun!

Track your contribution

​To submit your work and get recognized for your contribution to the movement, complete the form below. If we approve your submission, you’ll be awarded 12 Hours.

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