By Larraine Roulston:
April is our spring month when schools can demonstrate their commitment to the environment through a number of fun and exciting activities. One popular program to reduce plastic is the “Plastic Bag Grab Challenge” initiated by Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) and Walmart Canada, which rewards students who embrace the reduction, reuse and recycling of plastic waste in their communities.
As part of the challenge, schools collect single-use plastic bags, then drop them off at their local Walmart store for recycling. In doing so, schools select and contact a local Walmart for a day and time for bag drop off. Schools without a nearby Walmart still can take part through community engagement activities as those suggested by the RCO:
- Create awareness by making a public installation or artwork using reused plastic bags.
- Host a school event and invite parents, local organizations and government to celebrate their school’s involvement in waste reduction.
- Create lesson plans and activities, and share them on social media to help educate other schools about the 3Rs.
- Create posters explaining how to reduce, reuse and recycle bags in their community.
- Create videos such as Public Service Announcements and “How To” suggestions.
- Visit local retailers and encourage them to take action on eliminating plastic bag waste. Initiatives include plastic bag levies and promoting reusable bags.
- Challenge their classroom, school or community to go plastic-free for an entire week. Reward those who choose reusables instead of single-use items.
- Take a pledge to reduce single-use plastics as a school, community or as an individual.
Whether collecting single-use bags for recycling or engaging communities at large, schools are encouraged to catch everything on camera and, using hashtag #PlasticBagGrab, share on social media.
More than 1 billion plastic bags are given to Canadians annually. It’s time to not only reduce that number, but also to look for opportunities to reuse and recycle them. In previous campaigns, some students made presentations to city councilors, as well as encouraged retailers to charge a fee for plastic bags. At Rankin School of Narrows in Iona, Nova Scotia, teachers even incorporated the Plastic Bag Grab Challenge into their school curriculum.
Registration for Canadian schools is open to elementary and high schools until April 15 at plasticbaggrab.com. For teachers and community groups outside Canada, the website offers ideas and inspiration to encourage youth to collect plastic bags as well. Watch this video and learn more:
To help the homeless and at the same time keep plastics out of landfills and our waterways, for the past few years a DIY craft movement has been underway. Clean plastic carry bags are being repurposed by volunteer groups who cut and crochet them into sleeping mats, especially for those without a shelter. These plastic mats are hygienic, warm, waterproof, lightweight, and offer protection from the cold concrete streets. Directions and images can be found on the link below.
Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle and ReThink. The future is Rs.
Larraine writes children’s illustrated adventure stories on composting and pollinating. Visit, iwww.castlecompost.com