CafCu: New York City’s youth spreading environmental messages through media and the arts

Young people across New York City are creatively achieving zero-waste schools, plastic free waters, and climate-smart communities by merging citizen science and civic action with media and the arts.

Environmental education organisation, Cafeteria Culture (CafCu) has been working with the NYC Department of Education and other groups to teach underserved kids in New York City how their actions are impacting the environment.

Students learn the skills of collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, and participatory democracy, then engage local, national, and international audiences with their creative and informed youth-made messages and videos.

The youth-made videos – which can be viewed on the CafCu website or on their YouTube channel – are a fun, enlightening and informative way of getting environmental messages out there that are likely to engage people of all ages.

CafCu began life in 2009 as a group of concerned parents, educators, students, and designers came together to form Styrofoam Out of Schools (SOSnyc), aimed at ridding schools of 860,000 toxic and polluting polystyrene (or commonly called styrofoam) lunch trays used per day.

Within one year, collaborative efforts resulted in “Trayless Tuesdays” across all 1700 NYC public schools. That initiative alone resulted in the elimination of 100 million styrene foam trays from school lunches, incinerators and landfills with no additional cost to the City.

CafCu, which is a project of The Fund for the City of New York, was formed in 2013 and has expanded its focus to include other environmental concerns such as zero-waste and plastic free waters.


Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea

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