Preventing a ton (literally) of waste at your school can be easy, inexpensive, and educational.
Easiest First Step
- Stop buying plastic markers.
- Billions already exist on the planet as plastic pollution forever.
- Marker “recycling” programs = incineration. In corporate speak: “Waste To Energy”, resulting in more CO2 emissions and highly toxic ash.
- Even IF marker recycling was a real and functioning system, these programs would only ever capture a tiny fraction of markers produced.
- Marker “recycling” exists to make people feel better about buying more markers. It’s genius marketing.
What to use instead?
- Color Pencils (preferably unpainted as paint on pencils creates microplastics - another issue to explore!)
- Wax Markers
- Water soluble crayons, pencils, markers
How is it educational?
There is so much fascinating stuff for students to learn here!
- Set up a spent marker collection bin and label it: THE LAST PLASTIC MARKER and post on or near it data students collect, like:
- Weight + Volume Calculations of waste created by markers.
- Estimate waste generated per classroom, grade, school, district, state, country.
- Learn about the methane emitted from plastics as they are exposed to sunlight (landfill/litter/ocean)
- Discuss the problems with marker "recycling" programs. The logistical barriers, but also the carbon footprint of collecting and shipping spent markers back to a collection facility. The reality is that the markers are not "recycled" but rather burned for what is called "waste to energy", which has its own carbon footprint, and leaves behind toxic ash.
- Discuss what plastic markers are used for. Does anything on the list justify permanent, toxic pollution that will exist forever and is impossible to clean up?
We approach all school + office supplies with a critical lens because the effect + reach of plastic pollution and resource waste is impossible to overstate.
*Did you know a new marine animal was discovered in one of the deepest places on earth, and the scientists that discovered it were so concerned with finding it with plastic in its stomach that they named it: "Eurythenes plasticus"
They chose this name to highlight that plastic pollution is now so prevalent that even a new species of amphipod living nearly 7km below sea level has ingested plastic.
*Up next: Plastic Paint on Pencils
Happy to help you plan to reduce loads of waste at your school - reach out anytime!
Heather + Nikki (Founders)