The students at Bluestone Elementary School have tossed their disposable milk cartons for good after recently implementing a milk machine into their lunch program.
Hoping to reduce the amount of waste their non-recyclable milk cartons contribute, the students and staff at the Harrisonburg, Virginia school worked together to incorporate the machine into their cafeteria.
The idea came after a study found that nearly 39,000 cartons per year were being thrown out at Bluestone alone, according to WHSV 3 News. It was also discovered that students only drank about 70% of what was in the carton, contributing to the growing food waste epidemic in the United States.
There are a number of benefits to these new dispensers according to Andrea Early, executive director of school nutrition. However, she told the Daily News Record that waste reduction is the major goal.
Comparable to a soda fountain, the machine allows students to decide just how much milk they want to take and uses reusable cups each day. The milk dispenser encourages mindfulness by allowing students to take what they’re actually going to drink; and of course, there are no cardboard cartons piling up in the trash can, according to Early.
"It's good to know that we're not, like, drinking chocolate milk only to have the environment destroyed because of it," said Avery Holt, a fourth-grade student, in an interview with WHSV 3.
With the addition of the milk machine, the school plans to conduct another survey in a few weeks to see if adding it to their program has helped reduce waste. If the results are positive, the school administration will consider adding more milk machines to other schools in the district.