Plastic Pioneers drive climate change campaign in schools

Thousands of primary and secondary school pupils have joined a major new campaign to drastically cut the consumption of single-use plastic in UK schools in a bid to help stop climate change. 

More than 7,000 pupils, across 12 schools, have signed up to Plastic Pioneers - a campaign led by environmental charity Hubbub, and sponsored by retailers TK Maxx and Homesense. 

The schools benefit from being part of a community stretching from Scotland to the south coast, sharing ideas on how to reduce their consumption of single-use plastic. 

As part of the campaign, pupils form a Plastic Pioneers committee and audit their school’s consumption of single-use plastic. They then advise on - and experiment with - ways to reduce single-use plastic, coming up with their own initiatives including replacing plastic bottles with reusable ones, banning yoghurt pots and rethinking lunchtime packaging. Climate change information board by a pupil

Natalie Bayliss, Creative Partner at Hubbub, who is leading the Plastic Pioneers campaign, said each school involved in the campaign has been coming up with different, innovative ways to cut down on single-use plastic.

“Pupils up and down the country have devised some brilliant ideas – from cutting out plastic in canteens to experimenting with alternatives to plastic prizes at school events,” she said. 

“Single-use plastic is everywhere and our schools are no exception. It’s so ubiquitous, we often don’t even register it’s there. “And yet it’s having an extremely damaging impact on our wildlife and environment. This campaign helps empower young people to challenge whether single-use plastic really needs to be used and to come up with alternatives.” 

Claire Foot,  Business Manager at St Andrew's Church of England High School in Worthing, said: “Getting involved with the Plastic Pioneers programme was the kick-start our school needed to launch our sustainability programme. We wanted to do the right thing but didn’t quite know how to go about it. Our students are very passionate about this subject and the school is now involved in a number of great initiatives.  We were delighted to be awarded first place at the Worthing Light Festival in September for our “Man O’ Waste” jellyfish creation (pictured) made from single-use plastic. This was a huge boost and entering community events like this is great for helping raise the profile of the school.

“Our Science & Humanities department is linking with the Plastic Pioneer project as part of general curriculum teaching alongside carbon footprint/monitoring of data and climate change. We’ve held assemblies to inspire pupils and talk about how we can be courageous advocates for change in our local community and how we can help inspire national or global change.

“A group of 16 students have collected their household plastics over half term and have taken part in workshops with Dan Webb from Everyday Plastic to count and analyse what they’ve found and will be soon reporting their results back to the school. Our students will shoot a three-minute film on this activity which we will be entering into the Bank of England competition ‘Climate change – never too small to make a big difference’.

“One of the key actions we’re taking is to install a couple of water fountains which will replace the need for the 200 single-use plastic water bottles pupils in our school buy each week. There will no longer be any throwaway cups on offer either!  

“Our students are beginning to realise that no change is too small to improve our planet and we’re excited to be planning a range of activities in 2020 including a beach clean, possible visit to a recycling facility and a number of art and other curriculum-based activities.”

Image captions: climate change project - Man 'O' Waste by St Andrew's

1. A climate change call-to-action board by a pupil at Monkspath Junior & Infant School in Solihull
2. St Andrew's entered a piece of art called 'Man 'O' Waste' in the 2019 Worthing Light Festival. The exhibition showcased a number of stunning, sustainable art installations that lit up using renewable energy on Worthing’s East Beach recently. There were over 35 entries that were judged by Ali Lapper MBE and a panel of experts and St Andrew's were delighted to be awarded 1st place in their category.
As part of St Andrew's Plastic Pioneer project, students are looking at ways to reduce the use of single-use plastic in school, raising awareness about the environmental effects single-use plastics have and changing behaviours whilst at the same time creating stimulating new experiences for the students.
St Andrew’s are building an environmental policy around the three R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle. This will, in turn, save money and help ensure that any changes the school make have a positive environmental impact, improving the future of the planet and leaving a legacy for future generations to enjoy.

For more information on Plastic Pioneers, contact Natalie Bayliss at 

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