At the end of the 2017/18 academic year BIS HCMC announced its pledge to ban single use plastic on all of our campuses by 2020. This ban followed our Global Challenge entry to Nord Anglia Education in which we outlined all of the ways that we are becoming a more sustainable school, and was put together by a team of staff and support staff, alongside our environmental club students. In order to implement a ban like this the entire BIS community needs to be committed to making changes in their everyday lives, from using reusable bottles, to carrying reusable bags, to avoiding plastic takeaway packaging. We’ve already made some changes on our campuses by introducing new water refill stations which count how many plastic bottles we are saving by filling our reusable bottles, providing all new students to BIS with their own BIS water bottle, and putting in new recycling bins. However, these changes will only have an impact if students, staff, support staff, and parents are all making use of these new initiatives. The amazingly well-attended World CleanUp day event in September tells me that our community is on board with making changes and we are starting to think more about our waste consumption.
Although this year we are focusing on two new Global Goals for our Global Challenge, Quality Education and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, we will not forget about our pledge to change. This is why during the World’s Largest Lesson week our Year 10 students took part in a morning workshop with award-winning filmmaker, news correspondent, and presenter, Craig Leeson. Craig works with the Plastic Oceans Foundation whose aim is to end our addiction with single-use plastic. The 22-minute documentary that Year 10 viewed was a shortened version of ‘A Plastic Ocean’ which has won over 15 film festival awards and has been screened by over 70 countries across 6 continents. We were incredibly lucky to have him join us to share his experiences and expertise around reducing single-use plastic usage.
As part of the session Year 10 were first asked about their plastic usage, in particular using plastic straws, plastic takeaway cups for bubble tea, and buying single-use plastic bottles. They were given an introduction to the issues surrounding microplastics and the toxins that build up in seafood, and then in our bodies as we are higher up the food chain. In the documentary they were treated to amazing footage of blue whales underwater and the shocking sight of the plastic floating in the ocean miles from any civilisation. The images of children playing on rubbish heaps and beaches piled high with plastic were devastating. Following the screening, students asked Craig about the issues he had in making the film, his advice for reducing single-use plastic consumption, and how we can change the behaviour of manufacturers and consumers. Our Year 10 students identified ways for us to further reduce our plastic consumption at BIS by removing plastic cutlery and chopsticks wrapped in plastic, bring reusable tubs to buy food, and stopping buying from shops that give out plastic as standard. We’re hopeful that these ideas will become the next step in our movement towards sustainable change in school.
A huge thank you to the Year 10 students who engaged with the workshop and shared their well-thought ideas and plans. We hope that Craig enjoyed speaking to our students as much as we valued his insights and experiences, and we feel inspired to continue with our campaign.
Lauren Binnington, Assistant Head Teacher, Secondary Campus