Attention Teachers and Students! Leave those plastics alone!

It’s time to get back to school, and we’re going to make it fun! This school year, Surfrider Vancouver Island, is urging schools and their communities around the world to take part in the Back to School Plastic Challenge. Go to the Clean Seas website to download ideas. Our campaign is ongoing, and the deadlines given by Clean Seas only refer to their competition not the Single-use plastic Free Schools certification.

Students

  • Ask your school to stop using single-use plastic items in the cafeteria.
  • Talk to your local politicians about what they can do to reduce the single-use plastic footprint of your community.
  • Educate your friends and family about marine plastic pollution.

Teachers

  • Download the education pack and use it with your students.
  • Work with the school administration to see how your school can reduce its plastic footprint.
  • Participate in a beach clean-up together with your students.

Parents

  • Avoid plastic items when buying back-to-school supplies for your kids.
  • Do not use plastic for wrapping your kid’s lunch. Use paper instead or buy a lunch box!
  • Insist that PTA meetings and other school functions be plastic-free.

THE PROBLEM

Plastic is a valuable material and it has revolutionised medical care, and made many other facets of modern life possible. But the very features of plastic that makes it so convenient and cheap, also makes it so pervasive, resulting in plastic marine litter being one of the most serious threats faced by humanity. With predictions that plastic in the oceans will outnumber fish by 2050, significant changes in the way we use and dispose of plastics must happen now. It is a generational problem since many types of plastics take hundreds of years to degrade.

The majority of single-use plastics are thrown away within a few minutes of use, and plastic packaging accounts for nearly half of all plastic waste globally. When plastics enter aquatic ecosystems, there can be devastating consequences such as killing seabirds and mammals when ingested, and breaking up into microplastics which release toxins. When these enter food chains they are ingested by plankton and filter feeders, and are biomagnified up the food chains killing sea life and causing human health problems.

It is essential that the users of single use plastics fully understand the problems, and are willing to change their behaviours and become part of the solution.

THE SOLUTION

Rise Above Plastics Vision “Be the change we want to see in the world”. The Single-Use Plastic Free Schools program aims to eliminate single-use plastics in the school setting. By role modelling sustainable practices and providing alternatives, teachers and students will influence their local and global communities.

You’re not in this alone. Surfrider can help! Just get in touch with the Single-Use Plastic Free Schools campaign manager Margaret McCullough: margelmccullough@gmail.com  and she’ll walk you through the process.

How to become a Certified Single-use plastic free school?

Criteria for becoming Certified

1 – Take the Pledge HERE

2 – Keep a record/timeline of what your school has done to become single-use plastic free. This could be in video format, slideshow, or written format with pictures.

3 – Take pictures of the students participating and include these.

4 – Send your progress report to Margaret McCullough: margelmccullough@gmail.com

Single-Use Plastics Report

The benefits of plastic are undeniable. The material is cheap, lightweight and easy to make. These qualities have led to a boom in the production of plastic over the past century. This trend will continue as global plastic production skyrockets over the next 10 to 15 years. We are already unable to cope with the amount of plastic waste we generate, unless we rethink the way we manufacture, use and manage plastics. Ultimately, tackling one of the biggest environmental scourges of our time will require governments to regulate, businesses to innovate and individuals to act.

This downloadable paper produced by the U.N. sets out the latest thinking on how we can achieve this. It looks at what governments, businesses and individuals have achieved at national and sub-national levels to curb the consumption of single-use plastics. It offers lessons that may be useful for policymakers who are considering regulating the production and use of single-use plastics.

PDF Download

Ocean Wise Plastic Education Resources for Teachers

The Ocean Wise has produced a detailed set of resources for teachers of Elementary, Middle and High Schools to get your classroom started with your single-use plastic free challenge today.

Visit Website

Action plan for the reduction and phasing out of single use plastics in a municipality

Using the “Ban The Bag” campaign as an example. This document shows how to plan and execute a plastic ban campaign in a city or town, and can be used as a guideline for any single-use plastic ban.

PDF Download