At our initial meeting with our Principle, we talked about writing in our plastic free initiative into the school policy. We felt that this would strengthen the support form teachers, parents and students and that it would highlight the seriousness of our plight.
The policy below was written by a collaboration of students, teachers and members of the PTA. The policy will be ratified at the next board meeting in March.
Newpark Comprehensive School
SINGLE USE PLASTIC FREE SCHOOL
POLICY (‘Plastic Outta the Park’)
The Board of Management of Newpark School accepts that parents are first and foremost the primary educators of their children in relation to life choices. This policy is designed to ensure that Newpark can support the work of parents in relation to encouraging students to live responsibly. This policy was formulated in consultation with teachers, students and parents of Newpark.
We acknowledge that some of the data out there is controversial, but nonetheless the change is indisputably valuable and warranted.
We are not banning Single-Use Plastic, for the simple reason that banning can a) lead to a resistant or defensive reaction, and b) is not the attitude we wish to convey. We seek a cultural change based on education and encouragement, not on force or policing. We will not use words such as ‘rules’, or ‘banned’, when implementing this policy initiative. We believe that this is both right, and will in the long run be the more rewarding approach.
Newpark takes a whole school approach to developing this Single Use Plastic Free Policy. This creates a strong sense of ownership among all in the school community, with a commitment to sustain the improvements.
This Single Use Plastic Free Policy is influenced and guided by the mission statement and ethos of Newpark.
Extract from Ethos section: Each student is encouraged to reach their own potential, to demonstrate a respect and sensitivity to the needs of others and hopefully develop into responsible, active participative citizens and lifelong learners after school.
By working to promote the wellbeing of students and our environment, we are contributing toward the provision of a healthy learning of stewardship of our environment.
We would like to propose to append a small addition to the ethos section, with a view to taking greater cognisance of the environment, such as: develop into responsible, active participative citizens [and stewards of our environment], and lifelong learners after school.
- CODE OF BEHAVIOUR
This policy will serve to further promote the development of our students and is mindful of all parties.
- Young people spend a large part of their day in school where they eat at least one of their main meals and the packaging of some of this food needs to be sorted, cleaned, and disposed of. The home plays the major role in determining Plastic Free habits. And it is at home that it is vital that water flasks are frequently washed properly so as to rid it of bacteria. Students must understand the importance of keeping their bottles clean. However the school, in partnership with parents, can make an important contribution.
- We want to educate the Newpark community to take greater care of and responsibility towards the environment.
- We want to shift the “disposable” lifestyle that has become our norm, and act to greatly reduce the current estimates that around 50% of plastic produced is used just once and thrown away. This is a cultural shift that we want embedded across our community.
- According to Forbes magazine there are now 1 million plastic bottles being bought per minute worldwide. Between one third and one half of bottles are currently being recycled in more developed countries, but counting the whole world is only 9%. The remainder are ending up in landfill, in incinerators, or in the sea…(16million of them per day in the UK https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/28/a-million-a-minute-worlds-plastic-bottle-binge-as-dangerous-as-climate-change) all of which are damaging. This figure for bottles is roughly being echoed for other plastics also. At least 10% of plastics produced each year end up in our oceans (plastic-pollution.org). At Newpark we want to make efforts to reduce these numbers.
- 14% of all litter comes from beverage containers. When caps and labels are considered, the number is higher (plastic-oceans.org). This is why we will make the stainless steel flask part of the school equipment list.
- We want to help to conserve water. We want to equip our students with information such as: the process of producing bottled water requires around 6 times as much water per bottle as there is in the container.
- We acknowledge that the research around cancers and suchlike coming from plastic containers, and microplastics consumed by sea creatures, are currently contradictory and/or inconclusive; it is nevertheless the case that the problems are increasing and need to be addressed.
- Research has shown that plastics attract toxins like a magnet and may cause an increase in the prevalence of cancers and infertility through their presence in the seafood humans eat. Microbeads attract and concentrate toxic chemicals – including a class of pollutants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which are known to cause neurological problems, decreased immune function, and even fertility problems (sciencealert.com Microbeads Could Be Turning The Fish We Eat Toxic, Study Finds). At Newpark we strive to educate our community of how to stay healthy.
- 7 Reasons to go Plastic-Free:
- Single-use disposable plastics have a massive carbon footprint. Whether made from petroleum or plants, plastic manufacturing is not efficient due to the scale of production.
- Both the production and disposal of single-use plastics often emit massive amounts of dioxins, a highly toxic by-product linked to increased cancer rates and other human health effects.
- Plastic lasts forever: Plastic can never be broken down by natural processes; every particle of plastic that has ever been created still exists in a form toxic to all terrestrial and marine life.
- Plastics can be challenging to dispose of. Not all localities have the infrastructure to recycle single-use plastics; thus, many recyclable plastics take up valuable landfill space. When not able to be recycled or landfilled, they are often sent to incinerators, emitting environmental toxins into the atmosphere.
- Plastic poisons our food chain: It is increasingly found in the ocean and guts of marine life, extending to affect the health of human populations who rely on fish and other marine life for food sources.
- Going plastic-free can save you money! Relying on reusable items enables you to avoid constant purchasing of disposable items.
- Single-use plastic items perpetuate a wasteful, throw-away culture.
(from PLAN, plasticpollutioncoalition.org)
- AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
5.1 Purchase and promote re-usable water bottles. Discourage single-use plastic bottles in the hopes of eradicating it on campus.
5.2 Consult with stakeholders. Gain support from local shops. Negotiate with the vendors currently serving Newpark: Lunchbox – enable them to adhere to our policy. (The Healthy Eating Policy will also always be kept in mind).
5.3 Set up composting in the canteen, staff room and home ec. rooms.
5.4 Improve recycling – specifically correct sorting. Facilitate and encourage washing out of re-usable containers, and cleaning recyclable containers for recycling.
5.5 Educational initiatives to equip students with the knowledge and motivation to reduce plastic waste. Teach the hierarchy: REFUSE, Reduce, Re-Use, Re-cycle.
5.6 Carry out regular audits, and educational drives, to continuously re-enforce and embed the culture of Newpark being Plastic-Free. Try to make initiatives fun, such as a Bring Your Own Everything food event – where food is provided but they need their own lunchbox and cutlery to have it.
5.7 Take this initiative to remove various single-use plastics on campus in steps:
(the first three to be completed by May 2018)
- Plastic bottles
- Coffee cups, and other disposable cups
- Milk cartons
- Cutlery, straws
- We need to make composting a practice
- Efforts in home-economics, eg. avoiding cling-film
- Efforts to embed our policy in purchasing decisions
- Efforts to reduce plastic packaging when making purchasing decisions
- Encouraging students to make efforts at home
- Keep evolving it as we learn more
- ACTION PLAN
- The promotion of a Plastic Free Newpark will be addressed through a range of subjects at both Junior and Senior Cycle including Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE), Science, Home Economics, CSPE, Geography, Life Skills and Physical Education (PE), and form teachers.
- Promotion of Plastic Free Newpark will be achieved through the use of visual displays throughout the school.
- Information on Plastic Free practices will be available on the Newpark app, school website and in the school journal.
- Visitors and guest speakers will be invited where possible to offer their expertise on the subject.
- Consultation with the Student Council will take place on an ongoing basis to further develop and promote a Plastic Free Newpark.
- The food sold on the school premises, currently contracted to private catering company The Lunchbox, will be monitored and reviewed to ensure that it is in alignment with the Single Use Plastic Free Policy .
- Water fountains at which students can refill bottles with clean drinking water are available on each floor of the main school building.
- Parents will be made aware of relevant information via the Newpark website, school app and through the PTA.
This policy will be reviewed regularly. It will take into account any legislative
changes, new policy and strategy documents either in the school or from the
Department of Education and Skills, changes in school facilities and feedback from
parents, students and staff. The review will be carried out by the Plastic Outta the Park
Committee, which is made up of both students and teachers.
This policy was ratified by the Board of Management of Newpark at its meeting in February 2018 and will be reviewed on a regular basis.
Signed: ____________________________ Chairperson, Board of Management
Signed: ____________________________ Secretary, Board of Management