Sustainable 5th Graders


Usually, elementary students look up to high school students as role models, but a group of fifth graders have taken some inspiring steps in support of the environment that students at Sleepy Hollow High could definitely learn from. Throughout the whole school district, students use plastic sporks provided by the cafeteria. These are packaged in plastic with a plastic straw. At the end of lunch, all of that plastic is thrown out. Agitated by this, a group of 5th graders at Washington Irving created a petition to show to their principal how upsetting this wastefulness was to them.

This was originally a small endeavor, but it turned into a much bigger project when more and more students begin to get involved in the process. Over half of the 5th-grade class, 100 students, have signed the petition. The students brought up their misgivings about the amount of plastic thrown out every day in the cafeteria with Mr. Holland, the principal of Washington Irving.

The students are now working to raise money for a commercial dishwasher and metal utensils. Multiple groups of students have set up stands throughout town selling ice tea or lemonade. Another student set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for their cause. The students hope to set up a Walk-A-Thon to help raise money. As of now, the 5th-grade class has raised $200.

When asked about why they joined the initiative some students said that they wanted to help the environment. “I really care about our environment and I care about animals in the ocean and I really like things about saving the sea turtles and I think that having less plastic will definitely really help that,” a student replied.

Along with a few other students, she set up an iced tea stand to do her part to raise funds for the commercial dishwasher. “The amount of signatures we got just showed us how devoted everybody is,” Christos Polycarpou said when asked about what inspired him to help out.

These young students are committed to doing what they can to help the environment. “I think that the environment deserves better than plastic. It’s a good cause,” Sebastian Londono said. The kids have even begun using the phrase “The amount of plastic is drastic” to emphasize their goals in completing this project. 

Sleepy Hollow High School has also made strides in limiting our school’s use of plastic items. SPEAR (Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility) has sold over 50 metal straws to students and teachers to try to limit our community’s output of plastic waste in the environment.

The amount of plastic we use in our everyday lives is quite atrocious. Much of the plastic that we throw out ends up in the ocean killing wildlife. The 5th-grade students have the initiative to step up and take a stand against the destruction of our planet. It is not easy to say that we need to change the way that we run our lives, but it does speak to the necessity of change when young students are the people telling us we need to work harder to preserve our planet. The actions reveal the importance of caring about what happens and the effect each of us can have in limiting the plastic waste in our environment. The young students have inspired one another to step up and make a difference. Maybe they can inspire the rest of our community to do the same as well.