An interview with East Lake School grade four teacher Cindy Campbell presents the actions that her East Lake School grade four students are taking to stand up against single-use plastic, and over packaging in Chestermere by writing letters to local businesses.
“It was an organic thing, it started to happen naturally, they became more passionate about it because I was passionate about it,” said Campbell.
“They recognized it was harmful. They recognized the ludicrousness of our over packaged world,” Campbell said.
She added, “It was a collaborative effort. We wrote letters, and we’re really trying to make some change here.”
After learning about ‘garbage island’, and the garbage floating in the ocean harming the wildlife, the grade four students started to pay closer attention to unnecessary plastic and over packaging, they use in their everyday lives and began Boomerang Lunches.
The students made posters promoting the Boomerang Lunches and talked to other classes about implementing the use of reusable water bottles and utilizing containers for their lunch instead of plastic bags.
“Their awareness for plastic became expediential when they started teaching other kids about plastic, and how to reduce our waste,” Campbell said.
Although the Boomerang Lunches were well-received by the school community, it was difficult getting the 900 East Lake School students involved.
“It was difficult to manage because the message was to not put things in the garbage, which was counter to their regular routine,” Campbell said
After being introduced to the Blue Ocean Instagram page, the grade four students were inspired to write letters to companies to stop using single-use plastic.
The students chose companies that they use in their lives regularly, such as Starbucks, McDonalds, and Safeway.
“When I saw the over packaged watermelon with a styrofoam plate and plastic wrap, I was honestly a little bit upset,” said Joselyn who wrote her letter to Safeway.
Moving forward, the students are hoping their letters inspire local business to cut down on over packaging and unnecessary plastic, which will eventually spread worldwide.
One student said he hopes that not using plastic becomes so popular that a device is invented that would break plastic down.
After learning about the garbage crisis, two grade four students began to ride their bikes around town after school picking up garbage, trying to prevent plastic from the roadways going down into the sewers, and getting into the waterways.
“They can make change happen, it doesn’t have to be via their parents or an adult, they can make a difference in the world even at nine years old,” Campbell said.
She added, “Garbage island is a far-off place, but they can connect on a local level.”
Each morning Campbell’s students come into the classroom and tell her about how their families are making positive changes to reduce the amount of plastic they use.
“They are not just doing it themselves, because of the awareness they built. They are starting to tell their parents to change their behaviour. It’s pretty cool,” Campbell said.