COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah (AP) — When then-third grader Aggy Deagle and her family were talking about Earth Day at dinner last spring, her thoughts turned to her school’s cafeteria.
At Butler Elementary School in northern Utah where Aggy and her sister Liv attend, they used hundreds of disposable foam trays. Aggy hated watching the trays get thrown in the trash, where they would likely end up in a landfill.
She took up the issue and convinced her elementary school to switch from foam trays to biodegradable ones, inspiring other schools to make the change, the Deseret News reported.
Aggy’s classmates Evelyn Fisher and Annabelle Cheney heard about Aggy and her sister’s efforts and came up with the idea to circulate a petition. They posted copies in the library and collected signatures at recess. About 85% of the school’s students signed the petition, which they presented to the Canyons Board of Education last spring.
Their proposal got the green light. This school year, the elementary school ditched foam trays for biodegradable ones made from sugarcane juices. Other schools in the district are considering the change as well.
“It’s so much better ’cause I used to hate watching the trays go in the trash,” Aggy said.
“It makes me feel good because we made a difference,” her friend, Annabelle Cheney added.
The school district has also switched from using plastic utensils to reusable metal ones.
These changes have increased the nutritional services budget by about $200,000.
Jeff Nalwalker, the principal of Butler Elementary School, called the change a “pretty big deal.”
“When you talk to them, you can tell that this is them. This is authentically their brains. These are three of our very smartest kids, our most passionate kids,” Nalwalker said.
“Also, girl power! Watch out Greta Thunberg,” he added, referring to the young Swedish climate change activist.
The school board recently held a meeting to applaud the students’ efforts.
“A small idea and a few friends can change the world,” Annabelle said.