“I think it is amazing that the school is trying to use less plastic,” said Arshpreet, a year 8 pupil at Featherstone High – where hundreds of pieces of plastic have been cut from daily use.
It is not always quick and easy to change everyday culture in large organisations, but Featherstone High School in Southall has taken huge steps towards banishing all single-use plastic.
The school has swapped to metal cutlery, with magnetic bins to avoid knives or forks being thrown away accidentally; crockery instead of non-recyclable bowls; compostable boxes instead of polystyrene ones; and free, reusable mugs for staff instead of throwaway coffee cups.
Last, but not least, banks of drinking fountains were installed for the pupils to use with a reusable Featherstone water bottle (designed by a year 10 student) that they bring in every day – this removed 2,400 single-use plastic bottles per week from the school.
Headteacher Gerry Wadwa said: “Our students are very aware of the daily headlines about the huge environmental problems caused by single-use plastics and decided to try and make a real difference to our daily habits.”
‘Together we really do achieve’
Featherstone is now incorporating the conversation about the environment into PSHE lessons and the Reading Café in the school library even turned green one week. Arshpreet is a regular attender, and she said: “I think that it is great that the school is asking the teachers, as well as the students, to decrease their usage. I was extremely shocked when I heard how much plastic we were using and how much it has decreased. Together, we really do achieve.”
Another year 8 pupil, Karen, said: “I believe the school is putting a great amount of work into reducing plastic. The water fountains are very helpful because they reduce plastic and also encourage people to drink more water. We have reduced our consumption by 2,400 plastic bottles a week. The staff have also reduced their use of disposable coffee cups by 400 a week.”
Visit from Sky and a dive into television
At the beginning of 2019, Featherstone was spurred on to commit to their journey with a special visit from Jeremy Darroch, the chief executive officer of telecoms giant Sky; and ex-footballer Jamie Redknapp, who is now a TV pundit on Sky.
They talked to students about taking action on single use plastic. This was followed up with a group of students taking part in a live broadcast on Sky News titled Deep Ocean Live – with a vessel 300metres below sea level in Aldabra, one of the Earth’s most heavily protected coral atolls, close to the Seychelles.
The students took away the message that protecting the environment from plastic pollution is essential.
Victory over plastic: In numbers
Every week the school has stopped using:
- 4,000 pieces of plastic cutlery
- 2,400 single use water bottles
- 2,000 polystyrene bowls
- 400 paper coffee cups
- 200 polystyrene take away boxes