Leading a team of multi-generational artists and advocates, artist/mom Debby Lee Cohen, is bridging her experience as a giant puppet designer for parades and theater with her unstoppable passion to rid NYC school cafeterias of styrofoam! The Cafeteria Culture (CafCu) Team, in collaboration with puppet artist Mia Kanazawa, is constructing back-pack and pole puppets made of used-styrofoam trays and parading them on the streets of NYC and at the Green Festival NY on Earth Day 2012.
NYC public schools throw away 850,000 landfill busting styrofoam trays per day (except for Tuesdays),well over 3 billion since the 1990s. These oil based styrofoam trays are composed of the chemicals benzene and styrene (see ABC news clip about styrene's classification), especially threatening the health of low income students, who eat hot food directly off of styrofoam on a regular basis.
NYC exports school garbage to out of state incinerators and landfills as far away as Ohio. Innovations in cutting school food waste and piloting alternatives to these toxic, non-recyclable, single-use trays are urgently needed to reduce environmental toxins, greenhouse gas emissions, and the rising cost of NYC’s waste disposal. Through sheer scale and purchasing power, NYC's School Food program can influence national waste reduction trends in manufacturing and government, while also shifting societal habits for economic and ecological benefits.
CafCu's Arts+Action campaign creates visual metaphors to inspire public action for change and to publicize the shocking statistics of NYC school cafeteria generated garbage, providing the public with the opportunity to SEE, rather than imagine, actual amounts of non-recyclable styrofoam trays.
Your generous support will help us to purchase puppet building supplies and to document the process.
Three years ago, inspired by her daughters and her Parsons students, Debby Lee, co-founded Styrofoam Out of Schools, now Cafeteria Culture (CafCu), to rid NYC schools of styrofoam lunch trays. Building an unlikely partnership with NYC’s School Food program, she catalyzed the citywide launch of Trayless Tuesdays, reducing styrofoam tray use by 40 million trays to date!
Most recently, CafCu organized a series of meetings at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2 with parents, manufacturers, NGOs and government agencies resulting in an ongoing national EPA webinar series on reducing school waste that has already reached over 100 cities.
For more information, please visit our org website: www.cafeteriaculture.org
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