I know Summer has just began, but this is the perfect time to make this your Summer Project.
Last week, we talked about the causes of plastic pollution and how it affects us. Today, we want to focus on how we can begin to solve this problem. So, what it a Plastic Free School?
These are schools and campuses committed to reducing their plastic footprint.
According to The Plastic Pollution Coalition "The goal of the project is to measurably reduce plastic pollution on campuses around the world, with a special focus on the reduction and ultimately the elimination of plastic bottles, plastic straws and utensils, and plastic food packaging. Plastic Free Schools have identified plastic pollution as a key concern and are taking action to confront the issue. This means different things for different schools, from hosting a plastic free sporting event, to ending bottled water sales across the campus. Any school or student group with the intention of fighting plastic pollution is eligible to join ."
Again, from The Plastic Pollution Coalition, here are the steps to turn your school into a Plastic Free School:
STEP ONE: EDUCATION–
Learn in the classroom, conduct a peer education campaign, or bring in outside presenters. A brief summary of plastic pollution, myths and common misconceptions could be found here on this site. More in-depth information, including news stories and peer reviewed articles can be found at the Plastic Free Times website.
Understand exactly what items contribute to plastic pollution – Before you get the student body involved, educate yourself on what are the greatest contributors to plastic pollution. Many items in your backpack or in the classroom are made of plastic and are disposable. These items are the real problem, and the greatest contributors to plastic pollution. A short list of such items is: plastic straws, plastic bottles, plastic utensils, plastic cups, plastic wrapping for your sandwiches. These are some of the most common items. For a great list of alternatives, click here.
STEP TWO: COLLABORATION
Get a team together, including peers, educators, and administrators, To really address the problem, you’ll need peers to help spread the word, teachers to provide help along the way, and campus administrators that are willing to listen and ready to make change.
Share the Knowledge – share what you have learned. A great start is the one-sheet you can download.
STEP THREE: INVESTIGATION
Find out how much and what kind of disposable plastic your school uses, in a year, a month, or a day. This is your school’s plastic footprint. Understanding your campuses plastic program is the key to change, because it will help focus your efforts on the biggest problems, and you may be surprised by what you find.
The plastic footprint should include items that are regularly thrown into the garbage or recycling bin, including plastic bottles and cups, polystyrene trays and cups, plastic straws, plastic utensils, plastic baggies and food wrap, and other food packaging.Finding out how much plastic your campus goes through can be hard, but you may be able to measure it through surveys, trash audits, or working with the people who purchase the disposable plastic stuff on campus to find out what they buy
We will be scouring the globe for the best tools for this difficult job, and posting them here. In the mean time, give it a try and let us know what you did by registering as a plastic free campus, or emailing ben (at) plasticpollutioncoalition.org
STEP FOUR: ACTION
Take on the biggest contributors to your campuses plastic footprint, and set a goal for reduction.
Create a plan that includes the following areas:
- The problem:the most common sources of plastic pollution on campuses, including approximate quantities consumed per week;
- The path to education:Distribute outreach materials to the student body; and a plan to expand the advocacy of alternatives;
- The solution:specific delineation of reduction targets, including a timeline, a strategy for community engagement, and description of tools for measurement and assessment of goals.
- Future plans:expansion of target reductions beyond the original plan, year over year and including the entire student body