Kellogg Elementary Leads the Way in Environmental Responsibility: Transitioning to Reusable Utensils

Kellogg Elementary Leads the Way in Environmental Responsibility: Transitioning to Reusable Utensils

Kellogg Elementary School, known for its commitment to environmental stewardship, is making a big move in sustainability within the Goleta Unified School District (GUSD). Under the leadership of Principal Regina Davis and through the efforts of a dedicated PTA parent committee and student environmental leaders, Kellogg Elementary will become the first school in the district, and one of just a few schools in the US, to transition its cafeteria to reusable utensils.

Scheduled for April, Kellogg Elementary will bid farewell to single-use plastic sporks and welcome reusable metal sporks in its cafeteria. 

Plastic waste from public school cafeterias may not be on most people’s radar, but public schools serve almost 30 million lunches every day and generate a massive amount of solid waste – 14,500 tons per day as of 2019. Plastic utensils and food packaging make up 42% of this waste – this is an area where schools can make changes to substantially reduce waste. Kellogg’s initiative launched with a lunch waste audit to see just what waste is being generated each week.  Results indicate that the transition to reusable utensils will divert an estimated 54,000 plastic sporks from the landfill annually at Kellogg alone, setting the stage for a significant environmental impact. 

To mark the launch of the reusable utensil initiative, Kellogg Ocean Guardians, the Community Environmental Council, and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper will host a school-wide assembly on April 18th. Kellogg’s initiative is not just about reducing plastic waste; it’s a testament to Kellogg’s dedication to safeguarding student health, reducing environmental impact, and cutting costs. 

Kellogg Elementary has been teaching sustainability practices and environmental education over the last six years as a NOAA-funded Ocean Guardians school.  Ocean Guardian schools make a commitment to the protection and conservation of its local watersheds, the world's ocean, and special ocean areas, like national marine sanctuaries. The school makes this commitment by proposing and then implementing a school- or community-based conservation project.

Initiatives at Kellogg have taught ocean conservation and watershed protections, funded environmental education field trips and assemblies, hosted zero-waste lunch days and lunchtime composting, promoted biking and walking to school, held school and beach clean-ups, supplied classrooms with zero-waste party kits, provided students with reusable water bottles and utensil kits, and more.  Kellogg’s student Ocean Guardians Ambassador club won the Santa Barbara Earth Day group award in 2019.

 The reusable utensils initiative at Kellogg required partnership beyond Kellogg’s walls. Success of this initiative can be attributed to a productive partnership between Kellogg’s dining staff, the GUSD central kitchen, Principal Regina Davis, a dedicated parent committee, and over 60 student volunteers who actively joined the Ocean Guardians’ student committee. This collaborative effort underscores the collective commitment towards a greener, more sustainable future.

Through this project, Kellogg is cultivating future leaders who understand the importance of their actions on the world around them. Kellogg Elementary's parent-run committee on sustainability has already garnered attention from other elementary schools within the GUSD and beyond, indicating a potential ripple effect throughout the Central Coast.