Emma Bernsdorf Solly is encouraging her classmates to ditch plastic in their lunch-boxes. Photo: Kate Russell.

School kids lead plastic-free charge


She may only be seven-years-old, but Emma Bernsdorf Solly is very much aware of the impact of single-use plastics on our environment.

The Clifton Terrace School student is just one of several involved in a child-led charge to help the school become plastic-free.

Last month, Emma spoke at a school assembly about her concerns around single-use plastics in lunch-boxes and challenged both children and parents to find alternatives.

Now, compartmented lunch-boxes, paper and beeswax wrap and reusable containers have replaced cling-film, chip packets and muesli bar wrappers.

Emma says she wanted to do something to help after her mum taught her about what single-use plastics are doing to the environment. And, it is also Plastic Free July.

“Plastic bags are bad for our environment and lots end up in the sea and harm sea animals,” says Emma.

Principal Rob Wemyss says Emma’s petition was a “resounding success”.

“The exciting thing regarding children such as Emma is that it is a student voice, and not the voice of adults, that is leading the way. “Although it’s unlikely to be ever become policy, it is certainly an aspect of the school that we hope parents will buy into.”

Rob says that children have also challenged staff regarding the amount of plastic that is used to make a glue stick, which is a compulsory stationary item at most schools.

“Some classes have already stopped using these and gone back to made-up glue. Other classes will follow suit from the start of 2019.”

Students from the school have also started making and selling beeswax wraps for lunch-boxes, as well as reusable boomerang bags for the local Atawhai Four Square Supermarket.

They have also initiated a soft plastic recycling scheme thanks to one eco-conscious senior student, and collect and take all soft plastics to the recycling bins at New World or Countdown each week.

The school also have no outdoor rubbish bins and all non-recyclable rubbish goes home.
Emma’s teacher Carol Cowie says she is “very proud” of Emma.

“Most children in our class now have plastic-free lunch-boxes, which is fantastic.”