Julia Smith’s first grade class at Rooftop Alternative School, perched high up in San Francisco’s Twin Peaks area, is different from most, and Julia Smith is a special kind of teacher.
For example, in an effort to teach the children how to choose plastic-free grocery options, she actually took them on a field trip to Whole Foods to learn how to bring their own bags and containers to shop from bulk bins. After a lesson about the problems of ocean plastic pollution, the class participated in the Fake Plastic Fish Show Your Plastic Trash Challenge to collect and tally their classroom-generated plastic waste for a week.
Check the Challenge site to see the full results from their week of plastic collecting and read more about what they learned. Last week, I visited the classroom to pick up the plastic they had collected and chat with the kids about the plastic I had found on the beach and find out what they had decided to do about their classroom waste.
Several of the children had gone home and let their parents know they didn’t want to bring their lunches in plastic baggies anymore. And at lunch time, I saw quite a few reusable containers come out of lunch boxes. But the biggest decision as a class was to use fewer of the plastic-wrapped spork, straw, and napkin sets provided with school lunches.
The children agreed that on the days when they had sandwiches or any food that didn’t require a spork, they would refuse the utensil pack altogether.
So, what did I do with the plastic waste I brought back with me? I handed it over to the Plastic Century artists for an installation at the California Academy of Sciences for the anniversary of Jacques Cousteau’s 100th birthday. The project involved four different coolers full of “drinking water” representing the years 1910, 1960, 2010, and 2030, and were full of plastics from those years. The challenge: Would you dare to drink this water knowing how much plastic is in it?
Next week, I’ll post more photos of the art piece and last night’s event at the Academy. The Plastic Century Team thanks Julia Smith’s class for their hard work learning to care for the planet.
Will you follow the example of this amazing bunch of first graders and join the Show Your Plastic Trash Challenge?