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Call to Action! Educators vs. Plastics

“The Planet vs. Plastics campaign is a call to arms, a demand that we act now to end the scourge of plastics and safeguard the health of every living being upon our planet.” - Kathleen Rogers

On the 22nd of April, we celebrate Earth Day worldwide. Many schools are getting ready for their themes in celebration of our planet Earth. Some will organize fundraisers, quality air-awareness, beach clean-ups and more, in gratitude to our planet Earth. A common theme for everyone this year focuses upon the Planet vs. Plastics.  The movement is initiated by EARTHDAY.ORG who demands the International Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution (INC) of a 60% decrease of plastic production by 2040 and the elimination of single-use plastic by 2030. Why?

 

Plastic waste is a significant problem that is having an impact on a global scale. For example, plastic waste such as carrier bags and plastic sheeting is unsightly, of course. But it is also extremely hazardous to wildlife. It’s dangerous to fish, to birds and other animals, including farming livestock. If animals eat plastic carrier bags they can die. Marine life such as fish, sea turtles, dolphins and more are in danger of consuming, or getting tangled up in plastic waste, and die. And when they die their bodies decompose, but the plastic bag is yet again released into the environment, ready to kill something else.  And, did you know that more than 500 billion plastic bags were produced worldwide last year – that equals one million bags per minute! This means that the plastic production has grown to more than 380 million tons per year. More plastic has been produced in the last ten years than in the entire 20th century!

 

Plastics also extend beyond an imminent environmental issue, they present a grave threat to human health and climate change. When plastics deteriorate, they break down into microplastics and these microplastics release toxic chemicals into our food resources and water supplies as well as circulate through the air that we breathe. Igniting an education revolution to save the planet is therefore vital. Earth Day events and movements therefore promote the importance of teaching climate education to students worldwide, as knowledge is the key to making an impact.

 

As Educators vs. Plastics, our goal should be to create awareness among our children about plastic waste as they are our future – to create a sense of responsibility, and to make the use of alternatives to plastic a way of living. We have a unique opportunity to instil these values in our students and lead by example.

So how do we begin to make a difference? In practical terms we might begin by examining our immediate environments, our classrooms and school settings to see what we can modify to promote a plastic-free approach. Take a look at these simple ways that you can cut down the amount of plastic that you use inside and outside of the classroom: 


·      Arts & Crafts: the beloved glitter! Glitter is already a microplastic, making it easier to spread and contaminate our soil, air, water and food.  It's widely accessible, pervasive in nature and washing it down the drain only means it ends up in the ocean. Simply do a search on alternatives to glitter, and you will be pleasantly bombarded by environmentally friendly substitutes.

·      School catering: do your food orders come in individual plastic containers for each child? Why not ask your caterer for the food to be delivered in large food containers and distribute the portions onto reusable plates?

·      BYO: bring your own! As an alternative at school events, fairs, picnics and the like, bring your own cup, plate and cutlery to replace plastics.

·      School parties: use reusable cups, plates and cutlery rather than the more popular plastic items. Store them and use them again.

·      Laminating: a great piece of equipment in every school that prolongs the life of many materials. Perhaps we should try to use it more wisely? How about trying to use reusable plastic pockets? If the material will get damaged – paper is biodegradable and the plastic pocket can be reused.

·      Water: use refillable water bottles.

 

These are just a few examples and by no means an exhaustive list, but perhaps a good start. If you are not already trying them, please do and add on!

 

By empowering students with knowledge and practical solutions, we can inspire the next generation to become stewards of the environment and champions for a plastic-free future. Together, as educators and advocates, we can make a meaningful impact in the fight against plastic pollution.


“An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking; it involves the spiritual development of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to understand the times in which they live.”

Dr Maria Montessori – Education and Peace


Carola is Little Gems Montessori’s founder & principal. A subject very close to her heart is our planet Earth. On the 20th of April 2024, Little Gems Montessori will hold its 11th annual Beach Clean-Up in celebration of Earth Day, and in gratitude to our planet. Please get in touch should you want to join us: (357) 22 351319, or 96 557661, or littlegemsmontessori@gmail.com. We hope to see you on the beach!

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