Sustainable Swap Week
We feel that, as Canadians, we need to be more aware of the impact we are having on our planet in regards to our unsustainable habits. Small changes add up and youth can make a difference. We decided to focus on the reduction of single-use plastics in our school community as well as at our homes. Our school is surrounded by restaurants and the students are always ordering take out food and bringing it into the school along with the plastic grocery bags, straws and other packaging. Our own school cafeteria generates a lot of plastic waste. We wanted to address this and make it easier for students to make more sustainable choices.
We held a week of “sustainable swaps” over the lunch hour for all interested students. We wanted to show students and staff the options we had for all of the single use plastic we use daily. The EcoJimmies, our school’s sustainability group, were involved in the planning and executing the events each day. The students were able to show leadership throughout all stages of the project. On Earth Day, April 22, we turned old T-shirts into reusable shopping bags. On Tuesday, April 23, we made bath bombs and lip scrubs with all natural materials, using reusable containers. On Wednesday, April 24, we made beeswax wraps to replace plastic wrap and on the final day, April 25, we put together a sustainable lunch kit with included a pouch made from recycled T-shirts, thrifted cutlery and a stainless steel straw. Students learned how easy it was to swap out their old products (plastic wrap, plastic straws and utensils, chemical-laden cosmetics and plastic shopping bags) with sustainable, reusable alternatives which made better sense, both economically and environmentally.
Reflection & Celebration
This was an incredibly successful project with about 30-40 students participating each lunch hour. The students loved it and are asking to do the activities again. We wish that there were more students in grade 9 participating, so next year we will need to do better recruiting for the youngest students in our school. The ongoing sustainability of this project is built into the items that students learned how to make and took away with them. They took them home to share with their families.They proudly use their metal straws and beeswax wraps at lunch and are always drawing attention to students who are using the plastic versions of the products we made and educating them on better choices and how to go about making the change.