This month we are supporting Plastic Free July, which is focussed on reducing the amount of single use plastic items we use, encouraging everyone to ‘Choose to Refuse’ where possible.
One of the biggest issues with plastic pollution is the effect it has on our oceans and marine life. Research has shown that as many as 50 percent of sea turtles are ingesting plastic at an unprecedented rate, and dying because of it. Another study of the Loggerhead species found that 15 percent of young turtles examined had ingested such enormous quantities of plastic that their digestive system was obstructed.
One of the most important things that we can do to help our marine life is encourage our future generations to be mindful about single use plastic, which is why it is so important that change starts at ground level in schools.
We have compiled some hints and tips to help your school assess and reduce the amount of single use plastic that is used in your school environment to help your school ‘choose to refuse’ this July.
How much single use plastic do we use in our school?
The first step to reducing single use plastic in your school is to conduct an audit on the current levels of plastic waste being generated – This will help to establish a clear baseline on where your school is starting from.
To begin, have each class weigh their plastic recycling waste bins at the end of every Friday to establish a starting point, then continue this process weekly to track progress and see who is able to reduce their plastic waste the most, the lightest weight wins – Better yet – who can achieve zero plastic waste with an empty bin!
What sort of single use plastic should we be looking out for?
The key single use plastic items that are used in schools are the following;
- Cling wrap
- Plastic sandwich/snack bags
- Plastic spoons
- Chip packets
- Single use plastic drink/water bottles
- Disposable coffee cups
How can we reduce single use plastic in schools?
The main way to reduce single use plastic in the school environment is through raising awareness. This can be achieved through activities such as involving the students in brainstorming ideas on what plastic items they see around the school and how they could reduce, repurpose or reuse these items in the future.
Another great idea which has been very successful in schools across Australia is to introduce competition between classes to reduce the total amount of waste produced by the class each week through asking students/parents to pack a ‘Waste Free Lunchbox’.
One of the main ways to ensure that students are able to stop using plastic wrap on their lunches, is through using a good quality airtight lunchbox that helps keep food fresh all day. You could also encourage students to ‘choose to refuse’ single use plastic items around the school, for example plastic spoons or straws from the school canteen. In our blog ‘7 tips to packing a zero waste lunch’ we cover some more ideas for helping to pack a lunch that is zero waste.
Anything that raises awareness of this very serious environmental issue is a step in the right direction. It is so important that our future generations understand that they need to look after our planet so that it stands the test of time and ensures our marine life will still be around to both admire and maintain our ecosystem.
How can I get involved in Plastic Free July?
There’s still time to register and be involved in Plastic Free July. Simply click here and get your school involved by pledging to reduce your plastic consumption for the month of July and beyond!