A June 10 Maine Voices column by a Portland Public Schools student on minimizing trash in schools to protect the environment was commendable. Our planet’s future is in the hands of the younger generation, so it is truly heartening to know our students are passionate about sustainability and reducing waste.

The column offers sound advice that school districts would be wise to consider. In the case of the Portland Public Schools, however, I would like to clarify that our district is doing more to reduce trash and recycle than students may realize.

For example, all our elementary and middle schools use washable lunch trays that are reused again and again. With open campuses at our high schools, such lunch trays aren’t practical, but they use recyclable trays.

Also, all our mainland schools, except Presumpscot Elementary School, have cafeteria food-waste separation stations that separate out liquids, recyclables (including pre-packaged food containers), redeemables (if applicable) and compostable materials, which have reduced our trash volume 60 to 70 percent. Presumpscot has been doing a soft waste-separation launch this spring.

Casco Bay High School isn’t the only school with hand dryers – we have some at Deering and Portland high schools, Lincoln Middle School and Riverton. We don’t have many districtwide, but factors associated with their cost (the dryers are about $1,200 each, not including installation), their upkeep and the electrical connection in some of our older buildings make their value over paper towels questionable.

The Portland Public Schools reduces, reuses and recycles to be responsible stewards of the environment, save taxpayers money and set a good example for our students.

We also welcome suggestions on ways we can be more green. If it’s a solution that is feasible for our district and sustainable for the environment, I’d like to hear about it at [email protected].