It's Recycle Week - how to help your school become single-use plastic free and recycle


During Recycle Week (23rd – 29th September) what better time to take a look into how much single-use plastic your school uses and how you can recycle or reuse items that you tend to use a lot. Damian Hinds has challenged every school in the UK to be single-use plastic free by 2022, as part of a push to promote sustainability.


The education secretary has pressed school leaders to ditch plastic bottles, bags and straws in favour of more ecological options.


The use of plastic is growing at such an extent that it’s influencing human life and behaviour, littering the landscape, clogging our waste systems and killing wildlife.


Recycling and cutting down on our use of single-use plastic are topics that can be approached by teachers in several subjects, as it can be linked to a vast array of different human and natural processes.


Approaching the topics in class

Initially, you may want to quiz students on their understanding of plastic and the planet, by asking what they know of its creation, its use and of its disposal.


For primary school students, you may consider how they use plastic in their everyday lives and could ask them to keep a note of everything they use that includes plastic on any given day. You might also ask them to look at keeping to a recycling regime in the classroom to get them to understand and see the different objects that can be recycled and how.


Secondary school students could be asked to consider if there are alternatives to the regular items they take for granted, or if there are ways to reduce usage. Class debates should be encouraged around the topic of plastic and recycling and teachers may wish to divide students into groups to discuss the positive and negative aspects of plastic use.


Alternatively, you could ask students to develop a guide on the various types of plastic and their products or to find out what we use most and how and if we can recycle them.


Reducing plastic use in school

As a school you may want to look at everyday items that you use and if there are alternatives, rather than plastic spatulas you can look into using natural products instead like bamboo.


Encouraging children to bring in their own reusable water bottles and setting up water fountains and stations throughout the school, completely cutting the use of straws for drinks or talking about ways to cut down plastic in packed lunches by using reusable boxes and wrappers are both ways pupils can look at their use of plastic on a school day.


Finally, creating specific days and weeks in school that focus on different aspects of plastic pollution, for example, a trip to a local beach to clean up or celebrating Earth Day and talking about all types of pollution that affect the planet.


It’s time to consider climate consequences more than ever before and how both recycling and cutting down on plastic use can help our planet.


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