Learning Sustainably

In September 2005, Bic announced that it has sold its 100 billionth disposable pen…just think of the billions more of disposable ballpoint pens manufactured by other companies.

Roughly put, the disposable Pens can circle the globe 348 times!

It will take hundreds of years for a single discarded pen to decompose(Green Life)

The days preceding the first day of a new class at school/college are filled with zest and vim. The fervour piques children to own everything new and that pretty much estimates the ambiance of studies for them. The parents are equally effusive for buying everything novel and trendy, hoping for diligent work from their children. This, well, is a different story. But this blog is about packing off for school sustainably- from school bags to stationery to lunch boxes.

These are our suggestions on how to gear up for a Plastic-Free School Year!

  1. Pens- Every pen you throw away as a student, will live long after your grandchildren! Think of switching to a classy refillable pen! Be it a classic ink-pen/ fountain pen or a refillable pen where the only waste is the refill instead of the whole pen!
  2. Pencils- There are brands that make eco-friendly pencils and notepads from recycled paper. A certain brand makes pencil caps containing seeds which after using the pencil entirely can be sown into the soil and turned to a real plant!
  3. Book Covers- School books could be bound with Plastic-free (or PVC free) materials or simply with brown paper instead of plastic cling films. It keeps your book covers clean and the environment plastic-free!
  4. Pencil Boxes – Go for the durable metal boxes or opt for trendy cloth/ jute or bamboo pencil boxes that not only save the environment but are also available in loads of design and colour options to suit your tastes
  5. Lunch Boxes- Indubitably, plastic lunch boxes are unhealthy for keeping hot food. The toxins and chemicals of plastics react with hot food and contaminate it. This is worse for plastic boxes of a lower quality. Therefore, plastic boxes should be replaced by steel lunch boxes with immediate effect. The latter last for years (unbreakable), are a healthy option for hot and cold food both and are eco-friendly.
  6. Bags- With the need of a new backpack or school bag every school year, there is a huge amount of waste created! But this waste can easily be avoided with small steps. Consider extending your school backpack for another year. Or opt for a plastic-free bag like cotton or jute or recycled/up-cycled cloth bags!
  7. Hair ties- There was a time when hair ribbons were prevalent, but now it’s more a thing of the black and white cinema. With time it made way for elastic ties which is entirely synthetic and plastic based. Though fabric and jute ribbons are the most sustainable option to tie hair, yet children cannot be expected to court comic notice wearing them at the time they are in abeyance. It is, therefore, better to buy good quality hair ties that do not require to be replaced frequently. Maybe try checking if there are any affordable options for plastic-free ones, too?
  8. Water Bottles- Buying plastic water bottles while outside is a nefarious habit for the environment as well as health. Various studies have found the water in plastic bottles contaminated and unfit for drinking. Parents should buy steel water bottles for their children for schools and colleges. There are now light-weight options for metal bottles also available for those worried about the weight! Lastly, a high-quality BPA free plastic-bottle is still an option for those who want the lightest of alternatives, but this does have the caveat of being plastic and having some of the ill-effects of plastic! Carrying a water bottle of your own and re-filling it is quite hygienic, farsighted and responsible. All educational institutions have water coolers and filter taps to get the bottles re-filled. This is easily adoptable in daily life.
  9. School canteen sales- Eating food from school canteens in plastic plates etc. is equally harmful for one’s health. It is best to carry one’s own steel lunch boxes and cutlery and then buy food in the canteen.
  10. The new Gadget-based schooling- Digital medium and gadgets have become an inextricable part of education presently and staying up-to-date on the latest launches is a well-known fad among kids. But, there are already more than 7 billion smartphones in the world’s landfills! Responsible consumption and e-waste recycling habits should be adopted as early as possible and kids should be encouraged to handle their gadgets better for extending its life.

Bottomline:

Avoid plastic whenever and wherever possible. However, for purposes where it becomes a necessity, adopt good quality, high-grade and thicker plastic which can be re-used for much longer and then recycled for other uses. One must remember to segregate recyclable plastics from other waste to ensure it reaches the appropriate destination instead of polluting in landfills. 

The divine mantra for salvaging the environment is quite simple- Every individual matters. Every action counts.

 

 

 

 

References-

1 https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/plastic-ban-kicks-off-in-mumbai-but-penalties-put-off-till-june-25/article24242678.ece

2 https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/26/shocking-photo-shows-caribbean-sea-choked-death-human-waste/

3 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/28/a-million-a-minute-worlds-plastic-bottle-binge-as-dangerous-as-climate-change

4 https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/beating-plastic-pollution/article24213220.ece

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