While plastic continues to pile up in our landfills, SCH’s 4th-grade CEL students are learning about and implementing sustainable solutions to combat the plastic pollution problem. Their mission, through two core projects, is to reduce the number of single-use plastics that accumulate from packed lunches. Single-use plastics are designed to be used only once and then immediately discarded; examples include plastic bags, straws, water bottles, chip bags, candy wrappers, and plastic cutlery.
To start, students led a survey to collect data about the 4th grade’s plastic use habits. They discovered that our 56 4th graders were collectively bringing well over 100 pieces of single-use plastic to school every day.
The CEL students, eager to take action, quickly got to work. First, they designed icons for waste management that were turned into vinyl decals for the Lower School cafeteria. Their icons, which they made on the vinyl cutter, served as a visual reminder to sort trash, recyclables, and compost correctly. Each student learned how to measure, cut fabric pattern pieces, and machine sew a reusable sandwich wrap for their second project. Their sandwich wraps are made out of food-safe fabric and are a perfect sustainable alternative to Ziploc bags or Saran Wrap.
Finally, their hard work culminated in a 100 percent single-use plastic-free lunch. Mx. Ramsey, their CEL teacher, shared, "Students mentioned feelings of pride and accomplishment during our reflective discussion. They were also very happy to report that ‘Cleanup has never been easier!’ Taking direct action was very rewarding for my class, and I hope their experience will encourage others to reduce their plastic waste as well."