This blueprint is going to be the roadmap of your school’s journey to breaking free from plastic. Each step will help you create concrete plans to go plastic-free and will get you one step closer to creating sustainable systems within your school!
How does a school become Plastic-Free?
How does a school become Plastic-Free?
Step 1: Form your Eco Committee!
To be able to create a successful and effective Plastic-Free Campus Program, it is important to gather a group of committed and hardworking individuals, which you may refer to as your Eco Committee, who will take the lead in steering the direction of your school’s progress.
These individuals must be key stakeholders in different areas of your school that handle plastic.
Who could be included in your eco committee?
Your University President (Decision-making body)
Key decision-makers for policy in your university. This could be:
▪ Environmental, Procurement, and Sustainability Officers
▪ Waste Management Officer
▪ Finance Officer
▪ Academics Officer
▪ Student Organization Leader
▪ Student Government Leader
And a storyteller/monitor who is in charge of liaising with Break Free From Plastic.
Set regular meetings with your committee to track your progress and iterate as needed.
Step 2: Do a Waste Audit in your school
Do a Plastic Audit! You may choose from these existing toolkits:
We also suggest you do a brand audit to identify the top corporate plastic polluters in your school.
Step 3: Assess and set your environmental policies involving the procurement of plastic
|Single-use plastic utensils||
|Single-use plastic straws* & stirrers||
Single-use plastic food serviceware (cups, plates, bowls, trays, sauce dishes, lids, etc)
Single-use plastic-lined cups and bowls (coffee cups, soup bowls, snack boats, etc)
|Single-use plastic film or cling-wraps||
Single-use plastic clamshells & to-go containers
All polystyrene (Styrofoam™ and similar) food service products
|Single-use plastic bottles (water, soda, juices)||
|Single-use plastic-wrapped condiments, sauces, and seasonings (butter, jelly, peanut butter, creamers, sugars, salt, pepper, etc)||
Individually-packaged items with bulk alternatives (napkins, oyster crackers, individually wrapped fresh baked goods, mints, toothpicks, etc)
Single-use hot beverage packets unnecessarily packaged in plastic (Instant Noodles, K-Cups, plastic-wrapped tea bags, etc)
Pre-packaged plastic-wrapped retail items (chip bags, granola bar wrappers, candy bar wrappers, water/soda bottles, toiletries, etc)***
|Plastic shopping bags||
|Plastic trash and recycling bags|
|Single-use plastics used in academic settings (e.g. lab equipment)*|
|Single-use plastics necessary for health or safety purposes (e.g. medical plastics)*|
*Accessibility should be at the forefront of food-service vendors efforts when working towards restricting single-use disposable plastic. For example, when eliminating single-use plastic straws, dining facilities and vendors should make it clear that they still provide single-use plastic straws upon request (and without question), whenever anyone wants or needs one. Plastic straws are necessary for some individuals with physical disabilities, and should be accessible without question or judgement.
Compute your investment on reusables vs your expenses on plastic
To analyze the costs and benefits of shifting to using reusable products, use the Rethink Disposable Cost Benefit Calculation
Examples of initiatives to apply in your school
▪ Cafeteria Culture
▪ PLAN’s Plastic-free Campus Manual
▪ PLAN’s Reusable To-go Container Guide
▪ PLAN’s Creative Reuse on Campus
▪ PLAN’s Flow Don’t Throw
▪ PLAN’s Move Out Manual
▪ PLAN’s Free and Thrift Store Manual
We also recommend rethinking your plastics and waste pipeline and how it extends towards your local community. Waste management should always be sustainable on a local scale. Not all communities are equipped with the facilities required to manage the waste they produce, and most of our waste, even after segregating, still ends up in landfill. To find out more, check out these resources:
Step 4: Make an announcement and get everyone on board with your Plastic-Free Campus journey
Step 5: Incorporate this into your curriculum
Including plastics education in your curriculum will ensure that students will gain a deeper understanding of the overall problem.
Recommended Outline for a Plastics 101 course
▪ What is Plastic?
▪ Why is plastic problematic?
▪ What does plastic contaminate?
▪ Types of Plastic
▪ History of Plastic and its Life Span
▪ Cultural, Social, Environmental, and ▪ Health Implications
▪ Plastics Trail and Globalization
▪ What are its implications on developing countries?
▪ False Solutions and Real Solutions
Resources from the US:
Plastic Pollution Coalition‘s Knowledge Bank of Educational Curriculums per Level
5 GYRES’ NextGen Educational Curriculum
NAMEPA’s Marine Plastic Pollution Educational Curriculums
Resources from other Regions:
Wasteless India’s kNOw Plastic
Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung in cooperation with Break Free From Plastic’s Plastic Atlas
Step 6: Create an awareness campaign plan for your school/university
Examples of Campaign Activities:
Gallifrey Foundation’s Plastics Pipeline Infographics
CEH’s Healthier Food Serviceware Infographic
CEH’s Ten Reasons to Wash More Dishes
PLAN’s Hierarchical Ethical Guide to SWAG (Stuff We All Get)
Break Free From Plastic‘s Infographics Bank
Plastic Pollution Coalition’s Graphics Bank
Hold plastic-free events and activities
Submit your calendar to us and document your progress!
Step 7: Be part of the movement!
Do a Brand Audit in your school using this toolkit to identify the top corporate polluters and hold them accountable.