Every new year brings new beginnings, fresh starts and resolutions, many of which can be short lived. To kick off this calendar year I challenged our community to join me in a collective pledge to take small steps, so that together we can make a difference in reducing the flow from the ‘plastic tap’, with the view to ensuring that this resolution will be long lasting.
Over the Christmas break, whilst walking along my favourite spot of the Jurassic coastline, I was distressed to see so much rubbish, including considerable plastic waste, washed up on shore. Looking out to sea I envisaged in my mind this detritus bobbing about on our beautiful waters, and perhaps more alarmingly being consumed by all that inhabit our seas. Having watched the eye opening and powerful BBC documentary, ‘Drowning in Plastic’, I rather selfishly realised that plastic soups that exist far away from us, could very quickly become a reality on our doorstep.
At Sydenham High we have taken a great number of steps to reduce our plastic waste and to help turn off that ever gushing plastic tap. Eco warriors have helped drive impressive initiatives from #CutPlasticOutOfChristmas to more simple steps to reducing our waste of water and energy. Across the school, we have made a commitment to eliminate the use of single use plastic water bottles, as well as other forms of plastic in our dining rooms. Pupil voice in this area is strong and we are certainly listening and responding so there have been many schemes to help reduce our carbon footprint and to encourage an ‘eco’ culture in the school. But, it is nowhere near enough.
We know that we are facing a planetary crisis and as a school we feel strongly that we need to educate future generations, not only to address the environmental impact of our throwaway society, but also to think of ways to be greener and kinder to this wonderful planet we live on. So, this year, my opening assembly called on us all to make the commitment to reduce the increasing and unnecessary tide of plastic waste. With an estimated 10 million tonnes of plastic ending up in our oceans every year, we all have a responsibility to do our bit, at school, in our places of work, at home and in our everyday lives. We owe it to our younger generations that we are educating to put right the wrongs of our generation, and those before us, to nurture them into wanting to take those crucial small steps, be it by using bars of soap instead of bottles of shower gels, or by simply refusing to buy pre-packaged fruit and vegetables.
It has to be our duty to do our bit to safeguard this precious and unique planet we have and I am resolute in my commitment to helping to turn off the plastic tap, both as Headmistress of this wonderful school of over 600 pupils and 100 staff, as well as an individual. We need to change existing habits and behaviours, no matter how small these steps may be, and replace them with new ones, better ones, which won’t make our lives any more difficult but will help reduce the environmental impact of our actions. Simple, considerate, eco-friendly alterations to our daily routines will in time make all the difference. Why would we not want to?