Can you imagine more pieces of plastic in the sea than fish? Sound absurd? Well, this will happen by 2050 if we do not act now!
Approximately 14 million tonnes of plastic waste are dumped into our oceans every year, equating to a truckload of rubbish every minute of every day. This plastic waste is not only harming the sea life but our environment as well. Ocean plants provide 70% of the oxygen we breathe and is crucial to our health and livelihood. But plastic pollution has our oceans on the brink of disaster.
Around 80% of the plastic in the ocean comes from land-based activities, like the carrier bag you threw away, the plastic bottle that you left on the street or the cotton bud you flushed. Bad habits, along with poor management at landfill sites, causes plastics to find their way into our drainage systems, rivers and eventually our oceans. Consider small changes, such as holding your bottle until you find a bin.
Plastic does not break down as fast as other waste and can take approximately 450 years to degrade, and then it does not go away completely. It breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, called microplastics. Not only is more sea life being harmed by the plastic waste, but now see it as food. If we are not careful, we could be next to ingest plastic waste, as it will end up on our plates.
Around 40% of plastic waste end up in landfill, and only 9% is recycled. How does so much waste end up in our ecosystems?
What we do on land can change the fate of what goes on offshore, and small mistakes in waste disposal have a drastic impact on everyone’s health and wellbeing.
As adults, we know how to recycle and what logos to look for on containers to determine if they can. So, what if this was taught in schools so that children have the same understanding? Could this potentially change the future of plastic waste?
Teaching children the importance of recycling and the environmental issues can make them think twice before throwing rubbish away.
Before we can even teach the children about recycling, it needs to start with adults. If all members of staff and parents can lead by example, this will make it easier for the children to understand.
Making recycling part of teaching in schools does not need to be boring. There are lots of fun activities and resources that can be brought into learning, making the children enjoy recycling.
Recycling Clubs or Councils: Being involved in a club is something that every child enjoys. Children can play a vital role in a recycling club by ensuring their peers place the correct items in the appropriate bin. They could also monitor what has been collected regularly and even record their progress. They may even create games and projects for their peers.
Using recycled products in lessons: Children can benefit from using recycled products in subjects like art and science. Using products to create sculptures and collages can excite them, encouraging them to use recycled materials around the home or even collect them to bring to school to use in their next masterpiece. As part of any science project, children can grow plants or flowers in recycled plastic pots and monitor their growth.
School Games: Does your school have house teams? Why not get the whole school involved by running a competition to see which house team can recycle the most products.
Contacting your local council: Contacting your local council and informing them that you want to begin a recycling program at your school can be very beneficial. Your local council will be more than happy to work with you and can even help with information for the children for what can be recycled.
Kids can recycle through an endless number of activities. Using some of these methods can give children a better understanding of the countless items at school, at home or when they are out and about that can be recycled. Children can also learn about the current state of plastic waste in the ocean, how it impacts aquatic life and how we can help to prevent it.