Students protest over new litter policy

Student protests are typically reserved for the university campus, but last week students at South Slocan’s Brent Kennedy elementary school protested a new policy that addresses school lunch litter.

Student protests are typically reserved for the university campus, but last week students at South Slocan’s Brent Kennedy elementary school protested a new policy that addresses school lunch litter.

“It was quite well done and they made their points,” said Brent Kennedy’s principal Laura Moll. “Their representatives came into the office and we had a talk and they expressed their views. I let them know that I have had some concerns from parents and that I would get back to them about recess.”

The protest was in response to the decision by Brent Kennedy staff and the Parent Advisory Committee to introduce a boomerang lunch policy.

“It’s along the lines of you pack it in you pack it out like we would in the forest around here. The children were also told that they shouldn’t be taking any snacks outside because the litter from the snacks ends up on the ground as they’re playing,” said Moll.

Due to job action by the BC Teachers Union, the communication to parents about the implementation of the program has been inconsistent.

“There’s been a bit of lack of communication around [the removal of garbage cans] I think that a couple of teachers did remove garbage cans” said Moll.

“Since then it’s come to our consciousness that there are some kinds of things that the kids aren’t going to want to pack home like used tissues and if you have a bleeding nose, and we really do need a place to put that stuff.”

The decision to introduce the policy came after a couple years of looking at similar policies across Canada.

A newsletter that was handed out to Brent Kennedy parents on Friday said, “Over the past two years the PAC along with BK staff have been looking at ways to reduce the amount of litter on school grounds and to increase the environmental responsibility of our children.”

Last year the school began asking students not take wrapped snacks outside, but Moll said the policy was never firmly enforced and a lot of packaging still ended up outside and on the ground.

“The purpose of a boomerang lunch is not to transfer trash disposal responsibilities from the school to the home, but rather to encourage families to think about how they prepare and package food and then to reduce the use of disposable packaging,” said the PAC newsletter.

Moll said the school is working with new regional district procedures for recycling, and there are parents on the PAC looking at becoming involved in a composting program for the school.

Even though Moll feels the students got their points across through the protest, she hopes they will learn that next time they come to her before organizing a protest.