School lunch wrap study snowballs

A ball of plastic lunch wrap grew into a study subject for one Whangaparaoa School class. From left, students Caleb Harris, Jack Buckley, Katelyn Winter, Macy Breingan and Indi Shields.

A class study that began with a few pieces of plastic wrap has snowballed, making children and their families more aware of the environmental impact of plastic.

Teacher Sandra Grech of Whangaparaoa School says she was motivated to bring the issue to her Year 5 and 6 class when her 24-year-old daughter told her off for using Glad Wrap.

Later, Sandra asked her class to combine the plastic wrap from their lunches into a ball. In a few weeks it grew to be almost as large as a child’s head.

What followed is a class study at the end of last term into Where Does Plastic Go.

Jack Buckley, aged nine, says he and others were shocked at the things they learned about such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and whales with tons of plastic in their stomachs. They were stunned by statistics such as the millions of plastic straws used every day in America, the number of plastic bags produced each second worldwide (160,000) and that only one in five plastic water bottles actually gets recycled. Sushi is a favourite and healthy meal at the school, but the students in Sandra’s class now notice how much plastic comes with that sushi pack.

Katelyn Winter, Macy Breingan and Indi Shields also visited New World supermarket in Albany to find out what is being done to reduce the use of plastic, including plastic bags. Katelyn says they were told that there is little that can be done about plastic that is used to keep food fresh, but that the store has a plastic bag recycling bin.

Some of the students say that habits at home have been influenced by what they’ve learned, with less plastic wrap being used and cloth shopping bags being taken to the supermarket and other stores to use instead of plastic ones.

Sandra says that some of her students have also begun cleaning up litter around the school and elsewhere.

“Everyone has responded in different ways, but it’s made us all a lot more aware,” she says.


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