In our first few Head Girl’s Team meetings we have been discussing ways through which we can make the school more eco-friendly, and our ideas have centred around reducing the huge amount of plastic that we use every day.
As a Biology student this is a topic that I am very interested in and, having recently done a speech on our ‘Plastic Planet’ as part of the RADA course, something I have researched a lot. I was shocked by the information and statistics that I came across, having previously not realised the scale of the damage that plastic pollution does to our planet, primarily to the marine environment.
The sheer scale of plastic waste produced is, in itself, an environmental hazard. It is estimated that 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans each year, and if we continue on current trends there will be more plastic waste in our ocean than fish by the year 2050.
Plastic debris in our oceans and on our beaches visibly scars the landscape, but this problem is much more than just a visual blight. Virtually every piece of plastic ever made still exists in some shape or form due to the incredibly durable nature of the material. As most plastics do not biodegrade, they disintegrate into microscopic fragments called micro plastics, invisible to the human eye. These make up the majority of plastic waste in the ocean, and are the most dangerous form of plastic pollution. There are currently more micro plastics in the ocean that there are stars in the milky way, and their presence has detrimental effects on marine wildlife as well as mankind. Micro plastics are so tiny that fish and birds mistake them for real food. Inside animals they act as poisons, both physically and through releasing toxic chemicals and as they move into and up the food chain, they are eventually consumed by humans.
The damage does not stop there. Marine plants produce 70% of the oxygen that we breathe but the presence of plastic on the floor of our oceans inhibits the ability of these plants to produce the oxygen that we need to survive. The long-term implications of this could be catastrophic.
In order to try to combat our contribution to some of these issues we are looking to work with Housemistresses and the Catering Department to greatly reduce our use of single-use plastics, such as plastic straws, cups and cutlery, and replace these with biodegradable, sustainable products. We want to encourage everyone to acknowledge the issues that arise as a result of plastic in our environment, and understand that it is up to every one of us to help solve them.
We hope that by implementing these ideas we will be setting an example and having a positive impact on the wider community as well as our own.
Sylvia, (LVI Form)