GREEN TEAM MISSION

We only have one planet to live on and right now; it’s sick and needs our help!  The goal of the Carrollwood Green Team is to teach our students, staff, and parents how to take better care of the planet.

Each month we will give you a Going Green Tip, which will be something you can do to help make the planet healthier.  For the rest of the that month, we will practice the tools we learn from the Going Green Tip at school to help fix that problem.  If you want to practice at home too, that’s even better!

In addition to the Going Green Tip, each month we will also have a pledge for your child to take that focuses on practicing what they’ve learned that month.  To participate, you and your student can go online to sign the pledge.  Part of taking the pledge means talking to your family about what your student learned, and working together to practice the solutions.  Students that participate for at least 6 months (6 pledges signed online) will earn a special reward at the end of the year.  If you miss a month, that’s okay! You can work on two pledges at the same time if you want to catch up!

Welcome to Part 2 of ‘Planet or Plastic?’ Last month, we learned why single-use plastics (plastics that are used only once before being discarded) are so destructive to the planet. One of the biggest problems with single-use plastics is that most of them cannot be recycled and will take hundreds of years to break down. Of the ones that can be recycled, fewer than 10% actually are. That’s why it is so important that we find alternatives to single-use plastics whenever we can, like reusable water bottles, straws and utensils (and if you want to learn more about them, read last month’s Going Green Tip).

Remember from last month, according to National Geographic:

1. More than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are already floating in our oceans.

2. 73% of the litter found on beaches worldwide is plastic (bottles and bottle caps, food wrappers, grocery bags, styrofoam containers)….where do you think all of this plastic ends up?? See #1 above….

3. Plastic production globally has increased exponentially from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 162 million tons in 1993 to 448 million tons in 2015 (remember how much of this gets recycled?).

4. As of 2015, almost 7 billion tons of plastic waste had been generated. 21% of that plastic was either recycled or incinerated….the rest is filling up our landfills or oceans.

5. Globally, almost 1 million plastic bottles are sold EVERY MINUTE!!

6. Plastics have affected roughly 700 species of marine animals, either through ingestion (eating) or becoming tangled in it.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/plasticpledge/

This month, we are going to be focusing on other types of single-use plastics and how you can reduce or even eliminate your dependence on them.

Plastic Bags are one of the biggest single-use plastic problems! They aren’t biodegradable (meaning they won’t break down over time into natural materials) or recyclable (in many cases). When they end up in the ocean, which they do (A LOT), they become food for unsuspecting animals that don’t recognize that the plastic bag isn’t a jellyfish. The plastic bag (and other plastic debris that may have been eaten) just sits in the animal’s stomach until it gets sick and needs our help to make it better. A sperm whale in Indonesia was found to have two flip-flops, 115 drinking cups, 25 plastic bags, and four plastic bottles in its stomach!!

Fortunately, there are some very easy ways to replace those evil plastic bags with something better for the planet…

Many of us use plastic sandwich bags every day and yet we don’t usually spend much time thinking about what happens to the bag that held our sandwich once we’ve thrown in into the garbage. Guess what?? Nothing happens to it! It doesn’t get recycled (because it can’t). It doesn’t break down, or biodegrade, because it can’t. It spends the next several hundred years in a landfill (if we’re lucky) or in the ocean (if we’re not), waiting to slowly fall apart. And it is estimated that the average person uses 540 plastic sandwich bags per year. That’s a lot of bags!!

Here’s how to help:

1. Use a plastic reusable container to store your sandwich or chips. Not only is it reusable, but your chips and sandwich won’t get squished if someone accidentally steps on your lunch box!!

2. Use reusable cloth sandwich bags! They’re washable (and cheaper than having to purchase plastic baggies for your lunch every week) AND you can find them online and locally (at places like Target or Walmart).

3. If you have to use a plastic baggie, wash it (if possible) and reuse it for something else.

Those aren’t the only kind of plastic bags causing problems on our planet today, though. Plastic grocery bags are another huge issue and globally, we use 2 million plastic bags every minute!! Again, there are some very easy ways to solve this problem!

Here’s how to help:

1. Bring reusable grocery bags when you go shopping (you may have to remind mom and dad in the beginning until they remember on their own!). They’re inexpensive and can be used for years and years!!

2. If you forget your bags and have to get plastic ones at the store (we’ve all been there), reuse them for something else OR return them to the store and RECYCLE them!! If they have the green recycle symbol with a ‘2’ in the middle, they can often be recycled at the store (just don’t put them in your bin at home!!). Publix has large green bins outside their stores for plastic grocery bag recycling.

3. Say ‘No Thanks’ to the plastic bag at the department store if you can carry your purchases out easily without losing anything (or bring your own resuable shopping bag….you can buy these almost anywhere). Most stores are grateful since you’re saving them money too!

http://www.earth-policy.org/images/uploads/press_room/Plastic_Bags.pdf

As always, start small by replacing one thing at a time and just keep adding to it. Before long, you’ll find that you don’t need plastic bags nearly as much as you thought you did, and the planet will be a lot healthier because of you!! Go Green!!

Take the January Challenge

Single-use plastics are one of the biggest environmental issues facing our planet right now. Single-use plastics, as the name implies, are plastics that are used only once before being discarded and include bottles, straws, takeout containers, utensils, bags and styrofoam (and accounts for roughly 40% of our plastics usage). The problem with single-use plastics is that most of them cannot be recycled and will take hundreds of years to break down. Of the ones that can be recycled, fewer than 10% actually are.

According to National Geographic:

1. More than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are already floating in our oceans.

2. 73% of the litter found on beaches worldwide is plastic (bottles and bottle caps, food wrappers, grocery bags, styrofoam containers)….where do you think all of this plastic ends up?? See #1 above….

3. Plastic production globally has increased exponentially from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 162 million tons in 1993 to 448 million tons in 2015 (remember how much of this gets recycled?).

4. As of 2015, almost 7 billion tons of plastic waste had been generated. 21% of that plastic was either recycled or incinerated….the rest is filling up our landfills or oceans.

5. Globally, almost 1 million plastic bottles are sold EVERY MINUTE!!

6. Plastics have affected roughly 700 species of marine animals, either through ingestion (eating) or becoming tangled in it.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/plasticpledge/

For the next two months, the Green Team is going to focus on ways you can reduce (or even eliminate) the single-use plastics in your life. This month, we are going to talk about alternatives to plastic bottles, straws, utensils and styrofoam and why we need them.

The Stats on Plastic:

1. While it is unknown how many plastic straws are used globally every day, the statistic is undoubtedly higher than it should be, especially when there are so many great alternatives!! Not only are plastic straws not recyclable or biodegradable (meaning they don’t break down), they are also a threat to animals when they are swallowed.

How you can help….

When you go out to eat, skip the straw!! Tell your server ‘No, thank you’ when they bring straws to your table (and tell your server why you are skipping the straw). Or if you order through the drive-through, tell them ‘no straw please” when you order your food (and check your bag before you leave, ‘cause they always seem to sneak them in there anyway).

Purchase a straw that you can bring with you! Alternatives to plastic straws include stainless steel, glass and paper and come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. In addition, there are some that are portable enough to be carried on your keychain so you always have one with you!! Search online (Amazon has some great ones) or at one of your local retailers for your options.

http://skipthestraw.com/

2. As mentioned above, we as a planet purchase nearly 1 million plastic bottles EVERY MINUTE (and only 10% of those bottles are recycled). While not all of these plastic bottles contain water, a significant number of them do and America’s obsession with bottled water has continued to increase every year. There are, of course, instances when bottled water is the safest option but for the rest of us, using a reusable aluminum or glass water bottle is a perfect alternative to a plastic single-use water bottle. Not only is bottled water more expensive than water from the tap, it can be catastrophic to the environment. Bottle production includes crude oil byproducts and takes 1.39 liters of water just to make the 1 liter bottle (hmmm….something seems off here). If you participated in November’s Going Green Challenge, you know how precious water is and how important it is that we conserve it whenever possible, so using more water to create the bottle than the water inside it doesn’t seem like a good “water conserving” choice, does it?

How you can help:

Purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass water bottle that you can use over and over!! Yes, it takes a little more energy to fill your water bottle before you leave the house (versus grabbling a plastic bottle from the fridge) but when you consider the environmental consequences of your plastic bottle, it’s an easy choice to make. If you don’t like the way tap water tastes, there are filters and purifiers to help with that too!

Bring your own reusable water bottle to school every day! The Green Team estimated that Carrollwood Elementary uses _______ plastic cups for water in the cafeteria every month. Just imagine how much we could help the planet if we just bought our own water bottles to lunch.

https://www.businessinsider.com/bottled-water-facts-science-healthy-2017-4

3. While not quite as common as bottles and straws, plastic silverware and styrofoam containers are also single-use plastics that are contributing to the environmental plastic disaster. We use them for picnics and parties and when we order take-out from a restaurant. We use them in the lunchroom at school or work. And like all of the other single-use plastics mentioned above, they will be on this planet for several hundred years. They can’t be recycled and they don’t biodegrade, or break down, easily.

How can you help:

Use actual silverware for your picnic or party (instead of plastic stuff). If you don’t want to use your nice utensils from home, purchase an inexpensive set that you use for “to-go” moments. Or just wash your plastic silverware after your picnic/party and reuse it.

Another way to help is to create your own travel kit of reusable utensils. Toss a fork, spoon and stainless steel straw in a pouch and put it in your backpack, purse or briefcase. After using it, wash it and return it to your bag.

While avoiding styrofoam containers from restaurant take-out is tricky, you can bring your own plastic containers for your leftovers and have your server put your food in those instead of the styrofoam they typically use!

6 Million Tons of Single-Use Plastics Get Thrown Out Every Year! Here’s How You Can Stop This Waste

Once you start to pay attention to how much single-use plastic you are using on a daily basis, you may find yourself surprised at how dependent you and your family have become on it. But don’t worry!!!! You will just as easily find that there are countless ways to avoid single-use plastics that are easy to do. To get started, choose one single-use plastic item (straw, bottle, utensils, styrofoam) that you would like to replace and start there. Continue adding ways to make your life “plastic-free” every week! It’s time to choose….Planet or Plastic??

Take the October Challenge

October’s Challenge is the practice the 6 R’s!  Starting new habits can be tough, but we’ve got your back.  Click below to download a printable poster that you can print out and hang on your fridge to help you remember!