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Every Friday take-out lunches are delivered to the Tuck Shop at William G. Davis Senior Public School in Cambridge, Ont. from the local East Side Mario's. Grade 8 girls on the Tuck Shop staff noticed this weekly meal created many bins of garbage stuffed with lunch containers.
After calling up other nearby schools that also order East Side's take-out, these 13 and 14-year-olds called up the East Side Mario's manager and issued an environmental ultimatum—switch to recyclable containers or we (and the other schools in the area) will stop ordering from you.
Most adults would likely know the difficulty of trying to get a big franchise like East Side Mario's to change its ways. But these girls used their hundreds of student's worth of bargaining power and won.
Now once the weekly take-out lunches have been consumed, the leftovers are filling up the recycling bins rather than the landfill.
(above: Farisa Ally, Shelby Herteis, Sarah Thomson, Avery Robinson and Ramona Chandat stand in front of their Tuck Shop at William G. Davis Senior Public School in Cambridge, Ont.)
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Determined eco-kids are taking over schools across Ontario. They are getting environmental education in nearly every subject area from day one. Elementary students are writing persuasive paragraphs on why we shouldn't use disposable water bottles and making art out of recycled materials. High school students are discussing climate change in Grade 9 geography, Grade 10 science and civics, and Grade 11 and 12 geography, biology, chemistry and physics.
They could be frustrated, fearful or defeatist given the present sorry state of our Earth's environment.
They're not. They are taking their knowledge and getting to work.
They firmly believe one person's—and one school's—actions do make a difference, even if that difference by itself isn't going to fix climate change.
They are educating their peers, their parents, and their communities.
They are taking real action and the fast-growing Ontario EcoSchools program is paving the way for their environmental leadership.
This green revolution is changing the geeky environmental club stereotype and adjusting attitudes even among the "too cool for school" middle-school set.
These eco-kids are greening their planet from the ground up. And they are getting results.
(Last updated Aug. 24, 2009)