Can you believe it is back to school season already? Neither can we!

We know this time of year can be stressful, but we’ve got you covered. Using the SHiFT Platform, we have compiled 6 solutions to make this year’s back-to-school season stress-free, and plastic-free.

What is the SHiFT platform?

There’s no silver bullet to solve the ocean plastic problem but there are hundreds of ways to tackle it.

However, a big challenge for many people is knowing where to start. That’s why, in 2020, eXXpedition partnered with global technology firm SAP to launch the online SHiFT platform. 

The SHiFT Platform allows you to sift through hundreds of impactful solutions, and find the ones that best fit you.  

Each solution card includes facts to help users better understand the problem itself, as well as the benefits and challenges of implementing those solutions and the impact they can make in doing so. 

Using the SHiFT platform, we have compiled a series of solutions to help you minimise your back-to-school plastic-footprint! Whether you are a teacher, a student or a parent,  we think these 5 solution cards could be a great way for you to get started.

1. Give beeswax food wraps a go for lunch boxes

Have you ever tried making Beeswax Strips? 

Not only are they fun to make, but they offer a plastic-free alternative to cling film. 

More than 1.2 billion metres of cling film is used by households across Britain every year. That’s enough to go around the circumference of the world 30 times over!

If you don’t fancy making them from scratch, there are lots of brands offering the same thing.  

Abeego, for example, offers wraps in a variety of sizes. They are great for sandwiches, partial or whole fruits, veggies, and more. Order today, and get 15% off with your first purchase.

Benefits of this SHiFT:

  • Avoids single-use plastic
  • Easy to wash and store
  • Easy to make yourself at home

Challenges of this SHiFT:

  • Need washing and care
  • You may need different sizes for different uses
  • Need to source the appropriate materials

Click here for a step-by-step guide on how to make your own beeswax strips today!

2. Replace school fees with plastic waste

A primary school in northeastern India has started accepting bags of plastic waste in payment for tuition. 

Once a week, each child is required to bring at least 25 plastic items.

Since introducing the initiative, school attendees have increased from 20 when it opened in 2016, to 100 in 2019.

Benefits of this SHiFT:

  • Gives waste a value
  • Encourages reduction in ‘back-yard burning’ of plastic which releases toxics
  • Increases school attendance
  • Teaches children about community and environmental action

Challenges of this SHiFT:

  • Works in remote communities, but may encourage single-use plastic use in a different environment

Could your school offer something similar? Read more here.

3. Remember to pack a re-usable water bottle

1 million single use plastic bottles are purchased every minute.

Bringing a reusable water bottle to school minimises the need for plastic cups, and helps avoid buying drinks packaged in single-use plastic.

There are some great brands out there but Dopper is one of our favourites. Bottles come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. Better still, by purchasing a Dopper you are also helping to kick-start clean drinking water projects in Nepal.

Benefits of this SHiFT:

  • Avoid single-use plastic
  • Save money by avoiding purchasing drinks on the go
  • Stay hydrated – vital for a healthy body and mind

Challenges of this SHiFT:

  • Initial higher cost to purchase the bottle
  • Can be bulky to carry

Purchase your bottle today!

4. Organise an afternoon of games to educate students about plastic pollution

From science experiments to art projects, there are many different types of activities to help educate kids about plastic pollution and inspire them to take action, whether they’re on a beach or at home! 

Benefits of this SHiFT:

  • Children are very receptive to learning about how to protect the environment
  • Can be a fun way to spend time together as a family
  • Great way of connecting the concept of plastic pollution to your child’s life

Challenges of this SHiFT:

  • Chose a game that is a good balance of fun and educational to keep children engaged
  • Some are free, but some you have to purchase

From computer games, to Beachcomber Bingo, we have compiled a series of games to give you some inspiration.

5.Choose Natural Foam Play Mats

Conventional foam baby play mats are made from EVA, polyurethane or PVC foam. All of these plastics are hugely damaging to the environment from production right through to disposing of the play mat at the end of its life cycle. 

Little Earth Baby offers a solution to this. They provide play mats made from natural rubber foam and sustainably harvested cork.

With each play mat purchased from Little Earth Baby Collection, they will remove 50 grams of plastic from shores and oceans.

Benefits of this SHiFT:

  • Free from PVC, EVA and other toxic plastics, making it safer for babies
  • Cork and rubber used are carefully harvested from the bark and sap, without harming the trees
  • Biodegradable, including the packaging.

Challenges of this SHiFT:

  • Organic, biodegradable mats tend to be more expensive than conventional ones

Browse natural play mats via this link.

6. Sign the Plastic Free Schools Pledge

The average secondary school produces 22kg of waste per pupil each academic year. 

The figure for primary schools is even higher at 45kg per pupil.

Plastic Free Schools is a pupil-led education programme run by Surfers Against Sewage, that equips students with tools to reduce plastic pollution on campuses across the UK and beyond.

Benefits of this Challenge:

  • Any school or student group is eligible to join
  • Flexible to the plastic goals of your school

Challenges of this SHiFT:

  • Requires commitment – there are specific detailed steps that need to be completed, including a waste audit! 

3318 schools are already signed up – will your school be next?

 With SHiFT, there are now hundreds of solutions available at just the click of your mouse. 

The Platform helps you to understand the crux of a problem and weigh up where your biggest opportunity to make an impact may be. 

We do not need everyone to do everything, but we do need everyone to do something. 

What will your next SHiFT be?

We encourage you to share your actions across social media to inspire others to join you in making a difference in their own lives, communities, businesses and wider world.