SMPS organizes school-wide waste reduction efforts
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
With the help of her students, grade 4/5 Sioux Mountain Public School (SMPS) teacher Suzie Hughdie organized school-wide Waste Reduction Week activities daily, which went hand-in-hand with year-round waste reduction efforts at the school.
“At SMPS our focus the past two years has been on reducing single use disposable plastic. Our students know that every single piece of plastic ever produced still exists somewhere. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade. It turns into microplastics. We can’t see them but we know they cause major problems. A lot of people know about the floating patches of garbage in the oceans, but we’re learning that microplastics have been found in the Great Lakes and in Lake Winnipeg too,” Hughdie explained.
Hughdie’s students had the opportunity to be part of the planning committee for one of the five school-wide events throughout Waste Reduction Week, which ran from Oct. 15 to 21.
The events calendar featured:
Monday Poster Contest (ran Monday to Friday): Make a poster that with an earth friendly message.
Tuesday Movie Lunch: Students in grades 3-8 can choose to eat lunch in the cultural room while they watched the original cartoon, The Lorax.
Wednesday Paperless Day: Go the whole day without using paper!
Thursday Litterless Lunch: Decrease your lunch waste! Every student who brought a litterless lunch had the opportunity to win a scholastic book certificate. The class that decreased their lunch waste the most will win an earth themed lunch party!
Friday School Yard Clean Up: Take your class outside to pick up garbage around our school yard and in the neighbourhood.
Hughdie shared that some of the highlights from the week included seeing school lunch waste cut in half.
“We completed two lunch waste audits. We did one before Waste Reduction Week and one during Waste Reduction Week. As a school, we were able to cut our lunch waste in half. We also had Mrs. Cosco sew reusable lunch bags. The students who won the poster contests were given lunch bags with reusable containers, cutlery, and a straw,” she said.
The Waste Reduction Week efforts will continue year-round at SMPS. Hughdie said that the goal moving forward is to continue lowering single-use waste at the school, which was predominately lunch wrappers and paper.
“We want everyone to work towards packing litterless lunches. It was amazing to cut our lunch waste in half, but now we need to work towards that every day. We think that students and parents should pack more food that comes in biodegrable wrappers like oranges, bananas, and hard boiled eggs. Wrappers were by far the largest source of lunch waste (Goldfish crackers, mini Oreos, Bear Paws, etc). We’re saving up our wrappers to send back to the companies that make them. We’re going to write them a note to tell them that we like the taste of their product but we feel guilty eating them. We want them to look into using eco-friendly packaging so we can enjoy them without worrying about the environment,” she concluded.
Other school-wide efforts will include keeping the schoolyard clean and reducing paper use. SMPS already has G. O. O. S. (Good on One Side) paper bins in classrooms and the photocopy room, and they’re encouraging the re-use of paper before it’s recycled.