January 29, 2011

Plastic Challenge: Elizabeth K’s Montessori Class, Week 2

Elizabeth K's Montessori class's plastic waste

Name: Elizabeth K’s Montessori Class

Week: 2

Personal Info:
See the full description of Elizabeth K’s class in their Week 1 Challenge Post.

Total items: a lot!

Total weight: 5.62 pounds

Items: Recyclable

Items: Nonrecyclable
Odwalla bottles
ziploc bags (a lot)
single use carrying bags
bread bags
leftovers from pastel packaging
contact lense containers
contact wash bottle
straws
forks
spoons
safety wrap
plastic wrap on a tube
various kinds of lids from bottles or jars

What items can I replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
It’s always the bags. The kids are starting to really notice this. Some of them have already made sure that their parents take reusable shopping bags with them to stores. The students had a lot of great ideas today. One of them said we should contact the Johnson and Johnson corporation and ask them to make their Ziplocs out of something biodegradable. Another also said that if you have to use ziplocs, then at least use one over and over again. Art supplies can be purchased in bulk at various art stores. Plastic wrap just really isn’t necessary at all anymore–use a container!

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?
The students commented that we could start with trying to buy a lot less stuff, in general. They seemed to think that being together with others and owning only a few necessary things would really be a fine way to live. They also discussed going to take out restaurants, like Subway, or other fast food. They wanted to ask the people running the place to please package their food in something reusable!

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
None.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
The students agreed that we really need to try to use reusable bags. One mentioned making sure to go only to a bakery to get bread–never buying it packaged–so that you can even bring your own bag for fresh bread. The students are also learning to knit–they will be making bags–and we are thinking about raising class funds to get an old fashioned treadle sewing machine that doesn’t even use electricity, in order to make bags for the environmental science fair!

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
We don’t need as much as we think we need! :)

3 comments
EcoCatLady (AKA Rebecca)
EcoCatLady (AKA Rebecca)

I just want to say that I think it's so totally cool that you're doing this. Imagine a world where children nag their parents NOT to buy things rather than the other way around!

elizabeth k
elizabeth k

Beth, I think that the students are starting realize and to point out to their parents just how much plastic is being used for packaging. The problem is, families are so busy with various extra activities such as soccer, music lessons, or karate, along with having little siblings and their own jobs, that people often just don't have the time to start thinking outside the box of "convenience."

We just had a fundraiser for our class called the "pancake breakfast," where people typically use plastic utensils and plates and then throw them away. I was able to get a message sent out via my principal to the whole school about bringing your own plate and utensils and taking them home and washing them. I was also able to tell everyone about some of the research I have done on the harmful effects of plastic. So, in this way, I guess people can make little steps toward realizing that a little inconvenience can make a big impact on our environmental health. Plastics and convenience seem so drilled into our collective consciousness that for busy families it's going to take a lot of learning and time to stem the tide of this harmful pollution.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

I love the idea of knitting reusable bags. I hope you will share your creations with us if you do this project. Do you think the kids are influencing their families with what they are learning?