Only half a school year has passed and a new pressing problem has emerged: people don’t clean up after themselves after lunch. We’ve had school announcements, advisory messages and even GMI video features on keeping the lunchroom clean — yet nothing has worked so far. Given the extensive number of reminders that students have already been exposed to, it’s hard to imagine a solution that incentivizes students enough to pick up after themselves.
Although the custodians do their best to keep the lunchroom tidy between lunches, the lunch tables are still dirty almost every day of the week at the beginning of second and third lunches. If you ever sit at one of these later lunches, you’re sure to notice the leftover signs of previous lunches: fragments of nacho chips, scattered rice all over your lunch table and empty bottles of Cascade Ice all over the floor. The people that end up sitting at these tables have to be the ones to clean it up. As the lunchroom is a place for people to eat meals, the sight of such messes isn’t very appetizing, nor is it sanitary.
Not only that, but the garbage that is tossed into a bin often doesn’t even make it into the right one. During a regular lunch, the trash can is often overflowing whereas the recycling and compost bins are nearly empty. Even though it only takes an extra ten seconds to sort one’s trash, many students just choose to throw their entire lunch into the “trash” bin. By throwing recyclable and compostable items into the trash bin, we’re adding more mass to landfills and negating the reason those recycling and compost bins were put there in the first place.
This isn’t the custodians’ job. They have to clean the rest of the entire school, fix the lights and heaters and make sure every single door is locked and accounted for. Throwing away everyone’s trash after all three lunches may as well be a full time job, and they don’t always have the space in the schedule to do that for us. Taking care of our own garbage is the least we can do for our custodians, and it’s a positively impactful way to improve the campus.
Our school has already done a lot to help us realize that picking up our trash is a big deal. The only problem is, not enough students have responded. We shouldn’t convince ourselves that “someone else will do it” or “it’s not our job.” As the school year so far has proven, that mentality doesn’t work and the lunchroom still ends up extremely dirty for the next lunch period. We’re the ones who are using the lunch room, so it’s our responsibility to clean it.