Liz takes the Plastic Free July challenge ‘school-wide’
How Liz inspired her school to choose to refuse single-use plastic
For a number of years, Liz had participated in the Plastic Free July challenge as an individual. Then one year, she started noticing that there were quite a few ways that her school could get involved.
In her school’s canteen, Liz realised there were a number of items that could easily be switched. She decided to work with the canteen as the first port of call in helping the school reducing their plastic waste.
Getting the canteen on board
“I approached the canteen with the list of items that were targeted this year to see what they could do. Our Canteen Manager was very enthusiastic and committed to assist in any way possible,” Liz said.
“Plastic Free July was a real winner at my school, with huge support from our canteen staff we have made a couple of big, permanent changes.”
The canteen switched from plastic cutlery to bamboo, plastic straws to paper straws, and plastic-wrapped ice to ice cream in cardboard cups. This was a huge move, as the icy poles were the canteen’s biggest selling item. While they planned to go back to selling these icy poles in August, they changed their mind during the challenge and made a permanent commitment.”
A school-wide phenomenon supported by the students
It wasn’t just Liz’s hard work and the canteen workers’ commitment that made Plastic Free July a success in their school. The students also really embraced the challenge, keen to help reduce their contribution to plastic pollution.
“I was amazed by the number of students who really jumped on board, especially with the single use plastic bags,” Liz said. “Many of the students are obviously very well informed, both through school curriculum, media and parents.
“Once we started, we found so many more options where we could recycle or reduce our plastic waste. Our staffroom now has a four bin system – recycle, general waste, worm bucket and soft plastics that we recycle through the REDcycle program. Many staff have commented that they now have incorporated this system at home.
“Overall it has been a very positive experience for our school and has had a very positive impact on our students. I encourage Plastic Free everyday, but will again make it a focus for next July.”