Students Can End Plastic Pollution | Earth Day Network

Students Can End Plastic Pollution

Develop the Skills Necessary to End Plastic Pollution

Reduce, Refuse, Reuse, Recycle, Remove

Visuals of plastic-littered beaches and turtles with straws lodged in their nostrils can make you question your own plastic usage. Unfortunately, single-use plastics are so prevalent that trying to avoid them can seem hopeless.

Our End Plastic Pollution campaign helps students understand the impacts of plastic pollution on human and ecosystem health and how everyday actions can lessen the problem. One action to take is joining the Great Global Cleanup™, removing plastic before it reaches the ocean or breaks down in our ecosystems or water sources. But cleanups are only one step to end plastic pollution. We must also identify the sources of plastic pollution and work to eliminate them.

“Recycle” is too often the most popular part of the phrase “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” But “reduce” and “reuse” should be the first steps in the process. The global recycling industry is not equipped to handle the world’s plastic output, and the recycling process is not energy efficient. It’s better to reduce consumption by refusing items like straws and bags and to reuse items when you can.

Increasing awareness is the first step toward making more informed decisions in our lives. Students are powerful agents of change in their own homes and developing their ability to communicate these issues to their parents or peers can have a ripple effect of positive change.

Get Involved

Below are some activities to help End Plastic Pollution:

  • Participate in the Great Global Cleanup™.
  • Ban single use plastics in your facility.
  • Create a schoolwide pledge to reduce plastics.
  • Host a community clothing swap/yard sale.
  • Start a collection bin for markers and pens to send to a recycling facility.
  • Develop a plastic art exhibit/competition.
  • Host a Teach-In on the impacts of plastic pollution.
  • Install water bottle refill stations.
  • Conduct a letter writing campaign to ban single use plastics in your school district or community.

When planning a cleanup, contact local hardware stores for donations of trash bags and gloves. Also instruct your students on what kind of litter is safe to pick up and when to ask an adult for assistance. Inform participants of the ins and outs of recycling.

As you participate in cleanups, note the most common types of trash. Can you identify the source of the trash? If you can identify a common source, explore the ways to prevent litter from reoccurring. Can you write a letter to your local officials for more bins? Can you increase public awareness to improve community buy-in in cleaning up your area? Civic action is a great way to make lasting change well beyond your Earth Day cleanup event!

Additional Resources

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