Taking the Plastic Challenge

  • Location
    Bridgewater, New Jersey
  • Status
  • Age Level
    Any Age

The Problem

The goal of this project is to investigate the pressing issue of plastic pollution, particularly the use of single use plastic water bottles in our own school. Plastic can take lifetimes to break down or photodegrade, breaking down into smaller, more toxic petro-polymers, which in turn contaminates our soils, waterways, and food supplies.

Our Plan

The action we are taking is to reduce the use of single use water bottles, by educating our school community with educational presentations, that can be shared at lunch, in classrooms, during school events, and on social media. We are also collecting the single use bottles being recycled at lunch and in the classrooms to use for a variety of art projects and installations. Finally, we are no longer selling disposable water bottles at Roots & Shoots events, replacing them instead with reusable water bottles.

Themes Addressed

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    Animal Welfare
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The Benefit

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Here is how the project went:

The project was going extremely well when COVID-19 struck and we had to start learning from home. We had saved hundreds of single use plastic water bottles from the garbage and recycling bins, which we had begun using for art projects and creating art installations. We had made lunchtime presentations and created a presentation for our school's STEAM Fair. Finally, we had stopped providing single use water bottles at our winter Roots & Shoots events, and were instead selling reusable water bottles. The Hillside Roots & Shoots team is eager to pick up where we left off with this project when we returned to school next year.

Through this project I/we learned:

We learned the importance of teamwork and cooperation, as well as the importance of finding solutions to the use of single use plastic for the welfare of our planet.

What I/we might change:

In the future we want to start earlier in the school year and get more of our classmates involved with the project, as well as our larger community. As this project moves forward we want to start a campaign to end the use of single use plastic bags in our community. Many communities in NJ have done that, but ours has not.

My/our favorite part of this project was:

Collecting the water bottles from the lunchroom and classrooms, and brainstorming ways to reuse the bottles, rather than recycle them.

Some tips, tricks or fun facts about the project:

Start early; stay committed; never give up.

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