We have a choice:
Choose to engage student's inquisitive nature, optimism, and innate problem solving skills, allowing for their own environmental awareness and stewardship to develop.
Continue placating them with fairy tales of plastic “recycling”, and delusions of “earth saving” activities like beach clean ups - both fallacies catching up to all of us with a vengeance.
PLASTIC + VINYL SCHOOL SUPPLIES ARE AN INSULT TO EDUCATION.
Without exception, disposable junky school supplies are actively contributing to the contamination of the natural resources all life is dependent on.
Highlighters + plastic pens don't make up the bulk of plastic pollution in waterways, soil, or landfills, but like the rest of disposable plastics, they’re certainly adding to it.
*sampling of pens picked up while walking my dog.:
People don't stop to pick up dropped/discarded plastic pens because they’re worthless. No one comes across a fallen plastic pen on the street and thinks “Oh wow - is that a PEN?!”. The ones picking these up are fruit loops like us trying to prove a point and keep one more sharp shard of plastic from washing down the storm drain and into nearby waterways. Fools errand - we know.
The only way to stop adding to the plastic pollution crisis is to stop buying from the corporations that are making it.
Pivot to intention, practicality, reuse and repair. Set an example for students to shift from mindless excess, to a thoughtful use of materials.
It's actually and exciting opportunity - Challenge students and parents to round up what they have - pool resources - share materials - learn the truth about plastic pollution - break away from greenwashing. All the recycling facilities in the world running 24-7, and non-stop beach clean ups couldn't begin to scratch the surface of the mass of everlasting plastic that has already been created.
The only way forward is to turn off the waste. Stop it at the source.
Use up supplies you already have (check contents of junk drawers, old backpacks, and class cupboards).
Tidy up: sort/sharpen/organize.
Be selective when shopping for what you need.
Less, but better.