5th grader steps up to help eliminate plastic waste

Plastic ocean debrisEvery minute over one million plastic bags are used. In America alone, 100 billion are consumed each year.

A very determined 5th grader named Grace McCaull at Kenwood School in Northern California decided her class should do something about it.

Last year her school led a program designed to reduce single-use plastic products at lunch. In 2012, her fifth grade class participated in the Ocean Guardian program, which is funded and supported by the federal government agencies responsible for protecting the health of our oceans – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Marine Sanctuaries.

Plastic bags

Photo by Earl S. Cryer /ZUMA Press)

In a fascinating article co-written by Ms. McCaull and her teacher, Michael Terwilliger, they write “As Ocean Guardians, our goal was to inspire our school and community to start using reusable items instead of single-use plastics, beginning with lunch. We conducted an education program to inform people about the dangers of plastics in our oceans and how they can reduce the amount of plastics that reach waterways by switching from single-use plastics to reusables.”

Through her efforts, the results McCaull and her class achieved are amazing. They’ve seen:

  • plastic bag use reduced by 59 percent
  • plastic spoons by 75 percent
  • plastic cups by 38 percent.

McCaull has since moved her environmental commitment forward by winning a $3,800 research grant for her school to experiment with the environmental benefits of native plant gardens. To read more about this remarkable journey and how young people are making a real difference, see the full article here.

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