If you can’t reuse it, refuse it

SCP leader:                          Ms Anita Muscat

Participating school:      St Theresa School, Kerċem, Gozo

Students’ Age:                    5-11 years

Project time frame:          Project Year 1

  • Research question: What was the research question? What are the underlying regional problems?
  1. How many plastic waste items are brought to school?
  2. How can these plastic items can be reduced?

The project aims to:

  • eliminate the use of single use plastic especially disposable water bottles
  • sensitize school staff on adopting the 3Rs of waste management in their behavior and lessons
  • sensitize households to remove disposable plastic items from school lunches
  • support the Kerċem Local Council in the promotion of a Ban Single Use Plastic campaign 
  • get the support of the Eko-Gozo programme (run by central government) to provide reusable bottles
  • Approach: How did you proceed?

The project started with a school-wide awareness campaign about the negative effects of plastic through lessons and video clips and the need to replace plastic items (such as plastic bags and bottles) with more environmentally friendly ones.

A school-wide survey was conducted to determine the degree of plastic used. Results together with suggested alternatives were shared with the students’ families. Similar appeals were produced and relayed to the Mayor of Kerċem so that they could be conveyed to the village residents.

Parents were also informed about the results of a competition – based on weekly (unannounced) spot checks for each class – on which class eliminated plastic bottles first. This was maintained until all disposable plastic bottles were eliminated from all the classes. This initiative was supported by the donation of metal water bottles for all students sponsored by the Eko-Gozo Programme. Children could now refill these bottles from the Reverse Osmosis unit set up through the funding from the Gozo Ministry.

Once the issue of plastic bottles was resolved, the Eco-Schools Committee focused on reducing or abolishing completely, single use plastic, cling film, foil and paper packaging in school lunches and replacing them with reusable plastic containers. Parents were informed of the initiatives and once again surprise spot checks by students monitored progress.

  • Solution: What are your findings?

These solutions were proposed by the students and proposed to their respective families

  • buy bigger food packets instead of several small ones and empty them in reusable containers. Besides being economically more viable, this will reduce packaging waste
  • students will start bringing their own non-disposable plates, containers and cups for school activities involving food (e.g. parties, Pets’ Day, Carnival, Bake and Sell Days, Hot Chocolate Days, etc.). These can be washed and re-used thus eliminating disposable items
  • correspondence with parents was gradually switched from paper to emails. When paper was needed, notes were sent with the students without an envelop
  • families were asked to provide empty cereal packets that were brought to school and used as cardboard for charts and crafts

During lessons:

  • whenever possible, tablets are used instead of printed handouts
  • students were encouraged to reuse paper on both sides and to make use of paper which was already printed on one side for craft sessions
  • teachers were encouraged to use recycled and/or recyclable materials for crafts
  • Recommendation: What solutions have you developed for the regional problem(s)?
  • heavy reduction of waste initiated from households and generated at school
  • use the national recyclable waste collection scheme for generated waste
  • Dissemination: How did you promote your recommendations?
  • results of the surveys and recommendations were distributed to all the students’ families
  • suggestions for alternatives to plastic use were presented to the Mayor and disseminated within the community