Plastic Campaigns Group Advising

March 27 , 4:00 pm 5:00 pm EDT

Join Rachael and Savannah from Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN) for a follow-up to the Pouring Rights training series. We will be discussing program implementation and answering any questions associated with building a campaign on your campus.

April 11 , 4:00 pm 5:00 pm EDT

Calling all School Food Directors! Nationwide, school cafeterias use billions of single-use plastics each year. School Food Directors are perfectly placed to end this expensive, wasteful practice and open major institutional pathways to healthier and more sustainable alternatives.

Please join Dr. Katie Wilson, Executive Director, Urban School Food Alliance (USFA) & Johannes van der Pool, Child Nutrition Services Director, Fremont Unified School District (California), to learn how school food directors can tackle cafeteria plastics in packaging, foodware or both. The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) and Cafeteria Culture (CafCu) are thrilled to present two leaders in the growing environmental and public health movement to reduce school cafeteria plastics.

From Our Speakers:
The Urban School Food Alliance, headed by Dr. Katie Wilson and representing 18 of the nation’s largest urban school districts, uses volume buying power to push distributors and manufacturers away from plastic packaging. Dr. Wilson will provide best plastic packaging reduction practices and show how districts of any size can tackle food packaging, such as condiment packets and pre-packaged food items like fruit cups and other grab-n-go items.

Johannes van der Pool, food director for a medium-size 3500 student district, will recount the roadblocks encountered and the steps taken to move six California schools to non-plastic reusable foodware and swap out condiment packets for dispensers.

This webinar is designed for school cafeteria stakeholders interested in less expensive, healthier and environmentally preferable cafeteria options, including school food nutrition staff, district administrators, procurement, sustainability, facilities and operations staff, teachers, school green team members, students and parents.

Speakers:
Dr. Katie Wilson, Executive Director, Urban School Food Alliance
Johannes van der Pool, Director of Child Nutrition Services, Fremont Unified School District

If you are a student, parent, or educator looking for resources for creating plastic-free schools, you’ve come to the right place! We know that plastics are harmful, especially to young people who are among the most vulnerable to the hormone-disrupting and toxic effects of plastic chemicals. Yet unfortunately, children, teens, and young adults are frequently exposed to plastics. This is especially true at schools, where plastic meal trays, snack and drink packaging, school supplies, and other plastic hazards can seem to be everywhere.

Thankfully, solutions exist today, and many students, educators, and administrators are now showing us it’s possible to create healthier schools without all the plastic. We have compiled a list of Plastic-Free School Resources to assist schools in their transformation. And in this blog, we’ll show you how to best use them!

Resources to Create a Plastic-Free Learning Environment

1. Plastic-Free Campus Manual, from Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN)

Working with Plastic Pollution Coalition and Break Free From Plastic, PLAN has created its Plastic-Free Campus Manual as a resource for college and university students to take action to eliminate single-use plastic on their campuses. The manual shows students how:

  • Switching to plastic-free reusables for everyday plastic items like bottles, bags, and utensils is a great first step, as single-use plastics are among the easiest to replace.
  • Campaigning and education can be a valuable tool for raising awareness within school communities. This may involve developing events, setting up tabling sessions, and launching social media campaigns to recruit students and faculty to take part in the effort to eliminate plastic.
  • There are financial advantages for schools that adopt plastic-free policies. Investing in sustainable alternatives can result in significant savings and improve the financial stability of educational institutions by carrying out cost-benefit analyses and providing long-term funding plans.

By making a free account in PLAN’s online Community Hub, you can easily access the manual and many other resources to help campuses work toward zero-waste solutions, and connect with other communities taking action.

2. Resources for Educators, from the California Coastal Commission

The California Coastal Commission has published a guide full of environmental educational resources specifically for California educators. These resources are meant to help students understand and address key ocean issues, especially plastic pollution, and includes programs and resources, streaming videos, an interagency education network, and events calendar.

3. Trash Academy/La Academia de Basura, from 5 Gyres

Trash Academy/La Academia de Basura is a virtual educational series from 5 Gyres that combines education, advocacy, and community science with the 5 Gyres NGSS-aligned curriculum into a multi-phased educational platform that is available in English and in Spanish. The series is meant to inform and empower students, helping them to understand plastic pollution and how to take action to eliminate plastic from their homes, schools, communities, and on a global scale. Trash Academy/La Academia de Basura is free and open for anyone, anywhere to access.

4. Wayfinder Society Student & Educator Hubs, from Algalita

Algalita has created the Wayfinder Society, an engaging online platform with tools and support for students and educators who are taking action or want to take action to end plastic pollution. The Wayfinder Society provides educational guides, and step-by-step action instructions, student spotlights for inspiration, grant opportunities for projects and plastic pollution education supplies, and more! Signing up for the Wayfinder Society Hub as a student or educator gives access to a wide range of resources and the wider Wayfinder Society community.

Why Plastic-Free Schools Matter

The plastics industry has worked to normalize use of plastic across all aspects of our lives and undermine health risks. In reality, plastics cause a huge amount of harm. Plastics hurt the health of every living being—especially young people who are still growing and developing—throughout every stage of their endless toxic existence, from the extraction of plastics’ fossil fuel ingredients through plastics’ production, transportation, use, and disposal. Eliminating plastics from schools can help reduce the presence of microplastics and toxic plastic chemicals in learning environments—and from the bodies of students, educators, and staff.

Take Action

Ready to reduce and eliminate plastic at your school? The time to act is now, on individual, local, and systems levels. Through joint efforts, we will achieve a future in which plastic pollution becomes history, and people thrive in harmony with nature and each other. Together, let’s build a just, equitable world free of plastic pollution.

In addition to changing the status quo at your school, support systemic solutions to plastic pollution. Tell US representatives and world leaders to support a strong, binding UN Plastics Treaty that ends plastic pollution and injustice—and supports real solutions!

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April 17 , 8:00 am April 24 , 5:00 pm EDT

Eliminate all single-use plastic all week, for one day, or start with just one plastic-free action!

School cafeterias use billions of single-use plastics each year. Together, we can reduce billions of plastic items! ONE Plastic Free Lunch Action leads to another. 

After we use plastic, it breaks down into small plastic pieces (microplastics) that stay around forever. It pollutes the Earth & hurts all beings. 

Plastic is made from fossil fuels + toxic chemicals! That means plastic worsens ​the climate crisis and biodiversity loss.  Together, we can stop plastic at its source.

Back to school season is almost upon us, and while returning to the classroom might not be possible for all students, two things remain the same in this time of uncertainty: the importance of educating our youth and protecting the planet for their futures. 

This year’s plastic-free back to school not only features a variety of sustainable products for eco-minded students and parents, we also include a number of educational resources to compliment your child’s learning, whether it takes place at home or in the classroom.

#NOTPLASTIC

#NOTPLASTIC is an online store with a variety of reusable alternatives to single-use plastic. They even have carbon neutral delivery through reforestation.

Reusable Cutlery for Kids – A safe and healthy alternative to plastic cutlery, these adorable reusable forks and spoons are perfect for packing into school lunches. They are specifically designed for small hands and mouths and they are made from USDA certified organic bamboo.

Abeego

Abeego picks up where the peel leaves off. Their beeswax food wraps protect and breathe like nature’s peel and preserve food.

Beeswax Wrap – Abeego offers plastic-free wraps in a variety of sizes, so they are any eco-minded lunch-packing parent’s dream come true. They are great for sandwiches, partial or whole fruits, veggies, and more.

BeeBagz

Bee Bagz is an innovative manufacturer of sustainably produced and environmentally friendly food storage solutions. Their mission is to contribute to the zero waste movement by providing customers with socially responsible alternatives that result in a notable reduction in overall single-use plastic.

Snack Pack – If you like beeswax wraps then you will LOVE these beeswax bags. Reusable and biodegradable, these are a great alternative to single-use plastic bags.

BuyMeOnce

BuyMeOnce is an online store dedicated to selling quality products that really last. In a world where so many products are meant to break or wear out, BuyMeOnce is all about offering items that (you guessed it!) you only need to buy once.

Chalkboard – Revolutionize screentime with this wooden toy chalkboard tablet made by little miss workbench. Make learning fun and watch your child’s imagination come to life with this unique learning tool.

Chico Bag

Chico Bag offers a variety of reusable solutions to help prevent pollution from single-use plastic. With their partner brand To-Go Ware, they have saved an estimated 18 billion single-use items from entering the waste stream.

Snack Time Bags – Just one of these cute reusable bags can replace 1,825 single-use plastic bags throughout its life, and each set includes three. Reduce plastic pollution in style with these adjustable, reusable bags.

EcoBags

EcoBags is a Certified B Corporation that offers a variety of reusable bags that help prevent plastic pollution. All of their products are certified by the (GOTS), meaning their cotton not only meets high-level environmental and supply chain certifications, but also complies with social criteria. 

Organic Cotton Lunch Box – These reusable lunchboxes are made out of 100% organic cotton and are even customizable so your child can create their very own design.

ECOlunchbox

ECOlunchbox specializes in plastic-free food containers designed to help people reduce their dependence on plastics for health and environmental reasons.

Splash Box and Pods Set – Completely leak-proof and plastic-free, this terrific three-piece set of metal lunchbox containers includes one Splash Box and two coordinating Splash Pods.

Faherty

Faherty is a family business dedicated to crafting great products that last a lifetime. They produce quality products that honor both their customers and the planet. 

Masks – Make sure your kids suit up in style with one of these soft, lightweight face masks from Faherty. The accordion design and elastic bands make it easy to wear, even for the most finicky of kids.

Final

Final, the creator of the innovative FinalStraw, creates a range of ‘Foreverables’ that reduce the need for plastics, empower individuals to change their buying habits, and raise awareness of the impacts of our everyday decisions.

Final Fork – One of the newest offerings from Final is the Final Fork, a reusable, collapsable fork that is perfect for tucking into a lunchbox. Check out their Indiegogo to pre-order yours now.

Khala & Company

Khala & Company is a Colorado-based company that makes vegan and beeswax wraps for food on the go. They are also a Green America certified business and a member of 1% for the Planet.

Beeswax Wraps – Khala Cloths’ beeswax wraps are a great way to store and carry food without resorting to polluting plastic cling wrap. In addition to eliminating the need for single-use plastic wrap, you can feel great about using Khala Cloths because their beeswax is sourced from sustainable, bee-friendly apiaries in their local Colorado area.

Klean Kanteen

Klean Kanteen is a family owned business that makes non-toxic, BPA-free stainless steel water bottles. They are also a certified B Corp and a member of 1% for the Planet, so you can feel great when you buy their high quality reusable water bottles.

Kid Classic Sport 12oz Water Bottle – This stainless steel water bottle was designed with active kids in mind. It features a spill proof sports cap with a dust cover, a soft silicone spout and loop so it can be easily attached to a bag or backpack. It comes in a variety of bright colors and fun graphics, and the chip-resistant finish is extra durable, making it safe for people and the planet.

Leafico

Lefico is a Vancouver-based business with one major goal: to save the world from plastic pollution. To that end, they make high quality, affordable reusable alternatives to common plastic items. 

Telescopic Straw With Carrying Case – This is another eco-friendly gadget that is a big hit with the kiddos. Small enough to fit on a keychain and made from dishwasher safe stainless steel, this telescopic straw is the perfect addition to any environmentally-friendly lunch box.

Life Without Plastic

Life Without Plastic is an online store with a large selection of items that help people eliminate plastic from their lives.

Adjustable Juco Sandwich Bag – This exclusive sandwich bag is made of juco, a new eco fabric composed of 75% jute and 25% cotton. It offers the best properties of jute, such as durability and water resistance, while having a finer weave and softer texture thanks to the presence of cotton. It is strong and reusable and its high jute content–the production of which has a low carbon and water footprint–makes its overall environmental impact very low. 

Lunch Bag – This lunch bag really is the whole package: it is 100% plastic free (unlike most lunch bags), insulated, and it is washable! This bag is made from one of Life Without Plastic’s most trusted ethical manufacturers who strives to provide only the highest quality materials and finished product. The cotton is even GOTS certified.

Stainless Steel Folding Spork – This super handy and extra compact foldable spork is absolutely perfect for school lunches! It is small enough to be packed inside a lunch box or even kept in a pocket. Kids love this fun and practical alternative to single-use plastic utensils.

LunchBots

Founded by a mother of two sons, LunchBots offers zero waste food containers that are easy to pack and that last a lifetime. 

Bento Box – LunchBots offers stainless steel bento boxes in a range of sizes and with a variety of compartment options. These handy boxes are thoughtfully designed to make it easy to add variety to your child’s lunch without the need for tons of single-use plastic bags.

Made By Bees

Made By Bees is a producer of all-natural, Canadian-made honey and handmade beeswax products. They strive to save bees, the planet, and our food.

“Bee Kind” Buttoned Wrap – This adorable buttoned beeswax bag is a fun and reusable replacement for single-use plastic sandwich bags.

Rewilder

Rewilder is a sustainable fashion brand that finds beauty in discarded materials and upcycles them into products that highlight their strength and durability. This women-owned and operated fashion brand ethically manufactures their quality in their Los Angeles studio using only repurposed and upcycled materials. 

Backpack – Believe it or not, this stylish backpack was made entirely out of upcycled auto airbags and seatbelts! Durable and water resistant, this backpack features a 15-inch laptop sleeve and a dual-zip main compartment. Bonus: this product is PETA approved vegan.

Stasher

Stasher offers a range of reusable silicone bags that are better for you and better for the planet than single-use plastic baggies. Stasher is also a member of 1% for the Planet, which means that they donate 1% of their sales to environmental non-profits.

Sandwich Bag – Made with non-toxic, 100% pure platinum silicone, the Stasher sandwich bag is a total crowd pleaser and a lunchbox essential. These bags are endlessly reusable as they are both dishwasher and microwave safe.

To-Go Ware/Life Without Plastic

To-Go Ware provides sustainable solutions to the convenience of our “to-go” culture. Their goal is to make the “throw-away” mentality a thing of the past. Their products are innovative, safe, environmentally responsible, affordable and convenient. To-Go Ware makes it easy to choose to reuse. 

Bamboo Utensil Set – This handy bamboo utensil set features a fork, knife, spoon, and chopsticks all conveniently tucked in a pouch with a carabiner so it is perfect for people on the go. Lightweight, strong, and heat & stain resistant, these utensils will last a lifetime without imparting or absorbing flavors. Even the holder is eco-friendly as it is made out of recycled PET plastic bottles.

U-Konserve

U-Konserve was started by two mothers who wanted to find environmentally conscious solutions to packed school lunches. They knew that common single-use baggies and drink cartons were destined for landfill, so they created a waste-free lunch kit, and shortly after U-Konserve was born! To this day they offer durable, long-lasting products that offer innovative solutions to eco-minded parents and kids. 

NEW Stainless Steel & Silicone To-Go Containers – U-Konserve’s trusted stainless steel containers now come with plastic-free, clear-as-glass silicone lids! These are the perfect waste-free solution for eco-friendly lunches. Leak-proof and dishwasher safe, these containers are popular with kids and parents alike. 

Wild Minimalist

Wild Minimalist is an online story for people who are striving to live a plastic-free, zero waste lifestyle. 

Organic Biodegradable Bandaids – Handy, eco-friendly and super cute, these organic and biodegradable bandaids are great for stashing in your kiddo’s backpack.  

Wisdom Supply Co.

Wisdom Supply Co. is a Certified B Corporation that believes that waste is a design flaw. It is this conviction that drives them to curate and create school supplies that prevent waste, for good.

3-Ring Binders – Decades upon decades worth of disposable vinyl binder contribute to the global plastic pollution crisis. These sturdy cardboard binders with removable covers are designed to stay out of the waste stream altogether. Should the need arise for a fresh cover, simply remove the tattered cover, place it in the recycling bin, and attach a new cover!

Educational Resources

Join our global Coalition

Photo: Jackie Nuñez being interviewed by the STRAWS film.

During the month of April, Plastic Pollution Coalition invites educators, teachers, and students to dive into plastic pollution and learn about solutions. Together with STRAWS film, Plastic Pollution Coalition is offering free film shorts on plastic pollution geared towards teachers and students with live online Q&A and discussion.

Join us in helping to empower students to make strides in understanding the problem of single-use plastic and reducing its use. Check out the program here and sign up.

The goal of each online discussion is to help students craft individual or group projects to reduce single-use plastic pollution. These ACTION projects can be individual, in their home, or in their communities.

The sessions will be hosted by plastic pollution experts and frequent speakers Jackie Nuñez, Founder of The Last Plastic Straw and Program Manager, Plastic Pollution Coalition, and Sandra Curtis, Director of Innovative Projects, Plastic Pollution Coalition.


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About Jackie Nuñez

Jackie created the No Plastic Straws movement when she founded The Last Plastic Straw in 2011 as a volunteer project for Save Our Shores. The Last Plastic Straw has been a project of Plastic Pollution Coalition since 2016.

She is a part time kayak guide, full time activist, and lives in Santa Cruz, California, where she teaches people of all ages how to speak truth to plastic and be an agent for change in their communities. She has advised on more than 20 local ordinances limiting single-use foodware including plastic straws.

Jackie has a BS in Health and a AS in Horticulture, and has a passion for travel, ocean sports, design, gardening, the environment, and community service. Jackie is a frequent speaker at international conferences, in the press, and was featured in the award-winning documentary Straws.

About Sandra Curtis, Ph.D.

Sandra is Director of Innovative Projects for Plastic Pollution Coalition based in Berkeley, CA. She brings a wealth of experience developing projects internationally at the intersection of business, entertainment, education, science, and health, and uses those skills to expand partnerships, programs, and projects at Plastic Pollution Coalition. She initiated collaborative behavioral intervention research to reduce the toxic health effects from exposure to plastics. As a co-investigator with Child Health and Development Studies, she conducted Rethink Plastic and is expanding the impact of the study with ESL communities, across generations and global communities.

She co-wrote numerous PPC guides including the Healthy Baby Guide and the Plastic-Free Campus Manual. Sandra advocates for applying pressure across a broad spectrum of society from the individual to legislation, EPR, and the development of new materials to solve the plastic pollution crisis.

Her most recent speaking engagement with youth was advising a team of 6th and 7th graders  in Chicago on their entry into the Nat Geo Challenge.

She has a PhD in Education from UC Berkeley and a Masters and B.S. in Kinesiology from UCLA.

Caption: Jackie Nuñez speaks to Teacher and Activist Jacqueline Omania’s Heirs to the Oceans club of 4th and 5th grade students at Oxford School in Berkeley, CA. Photo by Jacqueline Omania.

For more resources on plastic pollution and curriculum for children of all ages, visit our Education Resources.

See also: 100+ Fun and Educational Things To Do at Home