Hautapu School students keep up the fight against plastic

Green Party MP Denise Roche chatting to students during her visit to Hautapu School last month.

Hautapu School students did more than just make environmentally-friendly bags during Plastic Free July.

It’s been a busy few months for environmentally-minded students and teachers at Hautapu School.

Earlier this year, two young students piqued the school’s interest in promoting a plastic-free environment after reading about a whale in Norway that had died because of the number of plastic bags it had ingested.  Eli Weijers and Jack Gollan were both horrified and inspired in equal measure, so much so that they took their environmental concerns first to their parents, and then to their school.

Hautapu School’s Enviro Group leader Tracy Rickit, right, with fellow teacher and Boomerang bag-maker Hazel Seager.

Eli and Jack’s heartfelt mission prompted Hautapu School’s Enviro Group to join the war on plastic, and they adopted the Australian-based Boomerang Bags initiative – one that gets local communities to make cloth bags as a sustainable alternative to plastic bags.  The school’s Enviro Group, parents and teachers all banded together in support, and community workshops held in early July saw more than 100 bags made, principally using cut up old t-shirts and other fabrics.

Goodwood School students also attended one of those workshops.

Rimu class teacher and Enviro Group head, Tracy Rickit, said Hautapu planned to hold more lunchtime sessions to ensure every one of the school’s families received a bag and instructions on how to make more of them. Enviro Group students are also hoping to run a workshop at an upcoming Enviroschool event being held at Lake Karapiro later this term.

Bags aside, however, Hautapu School has been determined to keep the anti-plastic message in the forefront of public attention, and has come up with some novel ideas on how to tackle the plastic problem.

Tracy said other junior classes created beeswax wraps and reusable sandwich bags as part of their plastic-free initiative, and senior classes created “innovative ideas for reducing the production of plastic, including wooden lunchboxes and shoes”.

“The school continued with the plastic-free focus as part of the Plastic Free July campaign that ran across the country,” said Tracy. “We were also lucky enough to have a visit from Green Party MP Denise Roche, who shared some of the challenges she faces in her journey for more sustainable alternatives to disposable plastics in New Zealand.”

The Plastic Free July initiative is held nationally to raise awareness of the environmental problems linked to single-use disposable plastic, and calls on communities to take action by choosing alternatives to plastic and pre-packaged items.

Hautapu’s junior school students also went on a trip to Raglan, where they visited the Raglan Recycling Centre and conducted a rubbish collection on the beach.

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