Schools winning the Planet vs Plastic war on Earth Day

Schools are stepping up the fight against plastic for Earth Day.

Alex Green, Head of Let’s Go Zero said: “Nearly 3,000 schools have joined the national schools climate campaign, Let’s Go Zero. Waste reduction, particularly of plastic waste, is a key part of most schools’ climate action plans.

“If all of the UK’s 32,000 schools reduced their packaging and recycled everything they could, and children and staff used refillable bottles and reusable cutlery – it would make a massive difference to our national landfill problem, with all the toxic implications that has. It’s crazy the amount of fossil fuels we get out of the ground to make plastic – just to throw it away.

“Schools are being really inventive about how they reduce their plastic, and it’s something that all adults, parents, councils and communities can learn from.”

Hollinswood Primary & Nursery, Telford, Shropshire – ‘Plastic free’ school motivates students to question council recycling

Pupils at Hollinswood school are reducing and re-using plastic – even using old wellies as planters in their school garden.

Photo: Pupils at Hollinswood school are reducing and re-using plastic – even using old wellies as planters in their school garden.

Hollinswood was the first school in Shropshire to be made a Plastic Free Schools in 2020 by Surfers Against Sewage.

The school has reusable cutlery and beakers, serves puddings and yoghurts in reusable melamine bowls and have reusable containers, reducing the need for clingfilm.  All students are given a reusable water bottle and reusable lunch bags are available for trips.

Year 5 students hold a plastics audit of the school each year, as well as two litter pick and sort days. They then write letters to share what litter they have found and why they want to see less litter in their community. Year 2 students wrote to council staff to ask them to cut the use of hard-to-recycle waxy cartons, while Year 1 wrote to supermarkets about reducing plastics.  Students also visited a local recycling facility to see how recyclables are treated and there are plans for another trip next school year.

Children have even upcycled old wellies, using them creatively as planters in their school garden!

Hollinswood School is working out its carbon footprint using the Count Your Carbon free online tool and has created a Climate Action Plan with support from Let’s Go Zero.

Welford, Sibbertoft and Sulby Endowed School, Northamptonshire – no more cartons, reusable cups all round

This school has stopped using individual milk cartons and straws, switching to large milk containers and reusable cups, reducing their plastic packaging and milk wastage. They’ve even integrated the use of reusable cups into early years development to help develop a snacking method (children being able to use and drink from the cups confidently).

Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School – Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham – students weigh waste to arrange own collection

Bishop Vesey School was worried that it had no recycling, with all waste going to general waste. The school sustainability lead selected a date for staff and pupils to take all waste from across the school to a central point to lay it all out and weigh/measure how much general waste/recycling they typically create in one day. They are now using this to inform recycling collection by their waste collectors.

Elston All Saints – Elston, Nottinghamshire – students reject yoghurt pots for lunch

Elston All Saints School holds learning forums where pupils can have a voice on different topics/issues. Recently the children were asked what they would like to see on the school menu (sent on by their caterer) and were given the option to choose for a dessert, whether they wanted to have yogurts or whether they want to have cheese and crackers. They found that a lot of the children aren’t happy that the yogurt comes in individual pots due to the plastic waste that these tiny pots generate. They would have preferred the yoghurt to come in big tubs and then put in bowls. So the cheese and crackers won.

If you would like your school to take part in plastic and other environmental challenges, then register for Let’s Go Zero’s Climate Action Countdown from 7 June to 5 July to celebrate climate action and win weekly eco prizes.  There is a pick-and-mix calendar of exciting activities from a raft of different climate charities. Schools, eco-clubs, students and teaching staff can all take part.

To find out more go to Climate Action Countdown – Lets Go Zero

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