Cafeteria Culture State of Mind

By July 18, 2016

By: Natasha Naik


As you know, this movement is dedicated to eradicating foam products in schools to better the health of our children and our environment. No Foam In Schools, which is based out of Houston, Texas, is not the first movement of its kind, thousands of parents, school faculty members and child nutritionists all agree foam should be taken out of schools. We would like to take a moment to showcase a similar movement that started in New York called Cafeteria Culture. 

Cafeteria culture was started in 2009 by a group of educators and parents in New York that were concerned about the harmful impacts of foam. They have come a long way in the battle against foam in schools and through what they call ‘collaborative efforts’, have managed to create Tray-less Tuesdays in New York schools. By eliminating trays from a school district this large, even once a week has prevented hundreds of thousands of trays from being sent to landfills and incinerators. Cafeteria Culture also prides itself in being a part of the New York City ban on foam which came about in 2013.

One of the nonprofit’s many initiatives is educating kids on why they should recycle and how it helps the environment. Watch one of their videos below, depicting how bottle caps thrown away can affect our aquatic life, including the fish we eat.


This video was made and directed by 8th graders in a New York middle school.  Cafeteria Culture gave these students cameras and an opportunity to let their voices be heard. This is part of a program called Youth Media + Arts for Trash Free Waters. The video, though whimsical, does have serious content. If the waste of one bottle cap can have such an adverse impact on our ocean life and on what we eat, how much more damage is being incurred by the millions of styrofoam trays being used across the country?

 Styrofoam trays can also harm the health of children by possibly releasing toxic chemicals into hot food that is directly placed on the trays. Cafeteria Culture is doing a great job making an impact up North, for a similar movement that recently started here in the South, check out No Foam In Schools, which has the same goals.



Our disposable culture is already taking its toll on our planet, the time to start looking for more renewable alternatives is now. Movements like Cafeteria Culture and No Foam In Schools are a start, but involvement with the public is key. We believe moments such as our own can have big impacts on society, as seen with Cafeteria Culture in New York. By educating more people and getting more involvement, we hope to have success stories replicating our cousin in the North and make the world a more foam-free place.

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