Student Lunch Contributes to Global Warming

About 18% of elementary school sandwiches are wrapped in Aluminum foil. This data came from a survey in a New Rochelle Elementary School lunchroom. Every child was surveyed on how its lunch was packaged. aluminum-can-life-cycle

We found of the 850 children surveyed, about 55 % brought lunch from home, the others bought lunch in school.  That is about 470 children. Only 6% of these children were completely waste free, meaning they brought all food and drink in reusable containers. Another 16% had some sort of reusable container, either a bottle or a sandwich box , 18% had their lunch wrapped in aluminum foil, of which half had that aluminum wrapped sandwich again in a small plastic bag.  So close to 80 sheets of aluminum were used every day in just one school.

Let’s look at what Aluminum is and how it is mined.

map_enAbout 7 percent of the earth’s crust is aluminium, making it the third-most abundant element after oxygen and silicon. Aluminium production starts with the raw material bauxite.

Bauxite is a mineral found mostly in a belt around the equator. Bauxite, containing 15-25 percent aluminium, is the only ore that is used for commercial extraction of aluminium today.

mineThe bauxite occurs mostly in the tropics, in horizontal layers normally beneath a few meters of overburden . The layers are usually mixed with various clay minerals, iron oxides and titanium dioxide. It is the iron that gives bauxite a deep red color.

This is the process of mining.

bauxite_mining_6

Industry claims that it is mitigating the devastating effects of strip mining huge surfaces, but evidence is ample that mitigation as well as environmental control during mining is lax or non existent.

abandoned mine color

Tailing ponds is another source for environmental problems.

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75% of all Aluminum foil used in the US is for single use food  wrapping, and ends up in landfills.

So your child’s sandwich can contribute to global warming.  Maybe there is a better solution?

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