Schools take up plastic bag-free challenge
The Two Oceans Aquarium has challenged all schools to give up plastic bags- for good! This Plastic Free July is the perfect opportunity to become a plastic bag-free zone, and the Aquarium is ready to help those schools that wish to make this commitment and change, through the process. This is part of the Aquarium’s youth focus for Plastic Free July 2019. The movement has already started with some schools that have taken up the challenge and are leading by example by saying “no” to single-use plastic products, and bags, on their grounds.
Being a plastic bag-free school, or zone, simply means that everyone agrees to no longer bring single-use plastic bags onto the school premises. Instead, food and other items can be placed in reusable containers and bags. This small and simple change has a huge impact, helping young and old to rethink their ways around single-use plastic and to engage with the crisis of plastic pollution in the ocean.
La Rochelle Girls’ High School
In celebration of World Environment Day 2018, themed “beat the plastic pollution”, La Rochelle Girls’ High, with the guidance from the Two Oceans Aquarium, declare their school premises a plastic shopping bag-free zone.
Since then, a school-based pledge has been created which learners, parents and teachers have signed to help make this dream a reality. Signage regarding the school’s commitment to the #RethinktheBag campaign has been added to the front gates of the school, as well as their email banner which many people click to find out more about the campaign. This shows that there is a great interest in the plastic-free lifestyle.
The Grove Primary School
The Grove Primary’s path to going plastic shopping-bag free started with the kids of the school’s eco-club doing a simple calculation – the families of the children in their school were using almost a quarter of a million bags a year!
The kids, with the support of their parents, took action and contacted Hayley from the Two Oceans Aquarium to present to the school. Hayley also helped by guiding them as they made a commitment to becoming a plastic bag-free zone. Hayley’s presentation, followed by posters, other presentations and environmental awareness activities (including a plastic-free rap performed by the Grade 3s) culminated with the total ban of single-use plastic bags at the school in 2018.
The Grove Primary continues to find new ways to lower their school’s environmental footprint, such as regular “walk to school days”, recycling competitions and even meeting Sarah Ferguson (former SA swimmer) to talk about plastic pollution.
Wynberg Girls’ High School
Wynberg Girls’ High School took on the #RethinkTheBag campaign to become an environmentally conscious school, committing to reducing their plastic impact on the environment. They officially banned single-use plastic bags on the property on 3 July 2018, thanks to the efforts of their Enviro Girls.
Principal Shirley Harding had this to say during assembly in 2018: “Every plastic bag that we do not buy or use is one less in the blocked drain or the landfill site. I am asking all of you to start changing your mindset and to get behind this project. Sign the Pledge – I signed the pledge this morning as I wholeheartedly support this project, as does the school governing body who met last night. Buy reusable bags, educate your family and friends – Wynberg Girls’ High School can lead the way! Thank you to our Enviro Girls and their teachers for initiating this project – we are on board to support you.”
Prestwich Street Primary
In August 2017, with the support and guidance of Hayley McLellan, who drives the Two Oceans Aquarium #RethinkTheBag campaign, Prestwich Street Primary officially introduced its Plastic Shopping Bag-Free campaign. Teachers incorporated lessons about sustainability, and discussions involving the school’s governing body and parents took place. This resulted in all school families signing a pledge to eliminate single-use shopping bags from their home life.
Deutsche Internationale Schule Kapstadt
DSK’s plastic-bag free journey began in April 2018, with a “green action” assembly, to which Hayley was invited. The school challenged its learners to design the ideal reusable shopping bag. The winning design was put into production in time for the school to declare itself a plastic shopping bag-free zone in during Plastic Free July 2018.
The youth of DSK is continuing to show commitment to the reduction of single-use plastic products at their school. Their “Going Green Team” have hosted expos, showcasing educational posters, films and activities about the environmental impact of plastic pollution, and the school is actively making ecobricks from their waste, collecting #RethinktheBag pledges and are currently designing reusable lunch boxes, and mugs to further reduce their waste!
Hoërskool D.F. Malherbe (Port Elizabeth)
On 9 March 2015, D.F. Malherbe High School celebrated its 60th birthday and supported the #RethinktheBag campaign in a huge way – by breaking the Guinness World Record for the longest chain of plastic bags. Learners collected 40 174 bags for recycling in order to set this world record (that’s more than 15km!).
In October 2015, the school officially declared itself a single-use plastic shopping bag-free area. No plastic bags are allowed on their premises at all. The school’s motto is “Staan rotvas” (Stand firm), and their “Staan rotvas teen plastiek” (Stand firm against plastic) campaign has been widely supported by parents and the community.