Plastics and especially single-use plastics are a menace to our planet, and now even schools are ready to take the challenge of eliminating our dependence on single-use plastics. They set themselves a target to refrain from single-use plastics by 2022.
Damian Hinds, the Education Secretary, pushed headteachers in England to give serious thought to using sustainable alternatives for items that are made from non-recyclable plastic and extensively used in schools such as bags, bottles, straws, and food packaging.
According to Hinds, teachers should ensure that students are well aware of the damages caused by discarded plastics to the wildlife and environment.
“On my first school visit as education secretary almost a year ago, the very first question I was asked by a pupil was what we can do to limit the damage of plastic on the environment,” he said.
At present, reducing the use of plastics is an important issue, and everyone in the society is interested in it, said Hinds.
Apart from these, Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, revealed plans to double the charge 5p of plastic carry bags and this will be applicable not only for large retailers but for all shops. These changes will be effective from January 2020 as a part of a consultation launched under the initiative of the government.
Hinds gave an example of a primary school in Devon which became the first plastic-free school in the country recognized by Surfers Against Sewage, an environmental group. He also argued that schools being in a position could make a difference by putting pressure on the suppliers.
Georgeham primary met various targets like stopping the use of minimum three items made from single-use plastic within the school and achieved the plastic-free status.
The milk supplied to the students generally comes in non-recyclable cartons along with plastic straws attached in wrappers made of plastic. School decided to change the packaging of milk and talked to the suppliers. Now, the milk gets delivered in recyclable containers, and the children use washable beakers to drink it.
The leadership shown by Georgeham primary school becoming single-use plastic-free is an impressive example for all of us, and Hinds wants every school to work together to support the country in becoming single-use plastic-free by 2022.
Though it’s not easy for all of us to have a role to play in the mission of driving out plastic waste, we can help to leave our planet in a better condition than we found it provided more schools join those leading in this mission.
The headteacher at Georgeham primary, Julian Thomas, said students were enthusiastic about the school’s approach and decision to achieve plastic-free status, and he thought Georgeham primary is an example for other schools and that they would welcome the challenge to go for the same goal.
As per Julian Thomas, they are a small school, but they think big. They made minor changes like replacing clingfilm for foil in the canteen and were able to reduce the use of plastic in school significantly.
Department for Education reported that evidence shows young people are more committed to giving up single-use plastics than older people. According to a study, 68% of 18- to 24-year-olds use the reusable water bottle in comparison to the national average of 55%.
Under the 25-year environmental plan, it is the commitment of the government to eliminate single-use plastics by 2042. In the budget, the Treasury confirmed the idea to launch a new tax on any plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled material.
It is high time that every one of us should understand that the matter is grave. We should forget about using single-use plastics in our daily life. The effort of every individual on this planet will ultimately make the difference. Let’s give it a try and we can.