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WWF Eco-Challenges Update

At the beginning of this half-term Bentley pupils were set six eco-challenges inspired by the organisation WWF (World Wildlife Fund). As two passionate eco-warriors on our own personal journeys to help save the planet, Mrs Krempel and Madame Jones have been promoting these challenges in school. Through regular discussions with the children this half-term, Madame Jones has been impressed with the children’s passion for and interest in environmental issues. So far discussions have included unnecessary plastic packaging and single use plastics, not wasting water and the importance of switching off lights when they are not needed. Next week the challenge is to write a letter to someone to highlight a particular environmental issue. So far potential recipients of their letters include Michael Gove, Aldi and a pupil’s auntie!

At lunchtimes, Mrs Krempel has been focussing on packaging in lunchboxes and school meals and it’s pretty evident from the large collection of non-recyclable plastic filled bottles in our dining hall just how much plastic we use in our day to day lives, sometimes out of necessity, sometimes as its forced upon us (Does a cucumber need a tight plastic swimsuit?), and sometimes just because we’re not as consciously aware of the alternative product packaging.

​Recycling bins in the lunch hall

With support from our catering staff we have three ‘special’ bins in the dining hall. A ‘non-recyclable plastic’ bin, a ‘recyclable plastic’ bin and an ‘all other recyclable materials’ bin. The children have been actively seeking out which bin their rubbish should go in. Whether that’s been a cheese-string wrapper, a cereal bar wrapper or the ice cream pot or plastic drink carton & straw from their school meal, it’s been great for them to have a visual to the amount of plastic we use briefly before then throwing it away.

From the very start of this project, it has been truly inspiring to have children asking questions about plastic and as the weekly challenges have continued so have the questions and the attitudes. We have seen a real shift in their mind-sets and believe they are certainly more aware of what’s occurring and what small steps they can take to improve and reduce our plastic footprint. In addition, teachers have been supporting in our classrooms collecting all used glue sticks and used plastic casing pens, ready to send back to the suppliers of the products, perhaps with some of those letters!

​'Bricks' made from bottles stuffed with non-recyclable materials

As Bentley’s WWF Eco-Challenges completes just before Easter with a ‘Plastic-Free Week’, the charity will be celebrating ‘Earth Hour 2019’ on Saturday 30th March at 8.30pm. Click here to find out more. With the children’s growing awareness of the importance of protecting our planet, this would be the perfect time to make a pledge such as reducing plastic. As the organisation states “Your promise might seem fairly small individually, but millions of people taking these actions together will have a massive and powerful impact.”

And for anyone still not convinced, initially it does cost a little more to buy beeswax wraps (to wrap the sandwiches in) or a bamboo bottle (to hold a fruit smoothie in) but Mrs.Krempel, has made these changes since we’ve started the challenges…and “won’t go back” on many of the measures she’s taken. She has even set a challenge, with her Year 5 class as witnesses, that on her next ‘family’ shop any items which she buys that are in unrecyclable plastic packaging, such as a family size bag of apples...she will empty into cotton bags and leave the unnecessary plastic packaging with the supermarket in question. Perhaps it’s time that we make them more consciously aware of their responsibilities and that they perhaps they could look at ways for the products they stock to be more ‘as nature intended’ or more environmentally friendly.

We look forward to hearing about the children’s letters and pledges for the planet in the next few weeks.

Madame Jones & Mrs Krempel, March 2019