The Two Oceans Aquarium has been working with three schools in Cape Town to take action and support the Aquarium's Rethink the Bag campaign by eliminating plastic shopping bags from their premises while encouraging learners and their families to choose multiple-use, forever shopping bags at home. We are proud to say that all three schools have now officially taken action to ban the bag - well done Wynberg Girls High School, Prestwich Street Primary School and The Grove Primary School.

Together, there are more than 2 300 families represented by the learners and staff of these schools - if each person can get their household to pledge to shop with reusable bags only, more than 1 million single-use bags will be eliminated a year!

The Two Oceans Aquarium, through Rethink the Bag, has set the intention to assist all schools across South Africa to become plastic shopping bag-free by the end of 2018. Help us achieve this simple, amazing and creative goal - here's what your school can do to go plastic shopping bag-free.

Wynberg Girls High School

Wynberg Girls High School has officially banned single-use plastic bags on its property and is encouraging its learners to take this lesson home with them. Rethink the Bag was invited to the school's assembly, where the ban was officially announced - and the school challenged its neighbours at Wynberg Boys High School to do the same.

Rethink the Bag's Hayley McLellan addresses the learners of Wynberg Girls High School at the official launch of their bag-ban.

Principal Shirley Harding had this to say during assembly:

“Every plastic bag we do not buy or use is one less in the blocked drain or the landfill site. I am asking all of you to start changing your mindset and get behind this project.

Sign the Pledge – I signed the pledge this morning as I wholeheartedly support this project, as does the school governing body who met last night.

Buy reusable bags, educate your family and friends – Wynberg Girls High School can lead the way!

Thank you to our Enviro Girls and their teachers for initiating this project – we are on board to support you.”

With the support of staff and students, Wynberg Girls High School designed their own reusable bags, using a competition to create excitement in the school.

Prestwich Street Primary School

Back in August 2017, Prestwich Street Primary officially introduced its Plastic Shopping Bag Free campaign, in collaboration with Hayley McLellan, the Aquarium's Environmental Campaigner, who drives Rethink the Bag.

Prestwich launched its campaign on two fronts. Firstly, its teachers incorporated lessons about sustainability, including the risks associated with single-use plastic, into its natural sciences lessons. Then, with discussions involving the school's governing body and parents, all families signed and returned a pledge to eliminate single-use shopping bags from their home life.

SPAR donated 800 reusable shopping bags to the cause of eliminating single-use plastic bags at Prestwich Street Primary School.

This project received much community support – 800 reusable shopping bags were donated by Cape Quarter SPAR for the families, and “plastic shopping bag free zone” signs have been placed outside the school.

“On a daily basis, we unconsciously use plastic and other unrecyclable items. We have the opportunity to conscientise not only our learners but their parents and in turn the community at large. Our position is very clear: We will educate, inspire and help transform what is around us first, to make of our environment a cleaner, rubbish-free and safer environment. This includes taking care of the environment where our land and sea animals live.” – Mahdi Samodien, Principal

This is a plastic shopping bag-free zone!

The Grove Primary School

The Grove Primary is a well-established eco-school with an active eco club that meets once a week. This was the ideal environment for driving a Ban the Bag campaign - here's what Grove Primary parent, and eco club supporter, Miki Redelinghuys had to say:

When you are confronted with the statistics and the challenge of “saving the planet”, it can be overwhelming, but what is the one single, simple thing we could do to minimise plastic use? Stop using single-use plastic shopping bags.

The Grove eco club doing a plastic audit in their school's recycling bins.

In our eco club we did a simple calculation to see how many shopping bags we could keep from our landfills (and oceans) if we convince the entire school community to stop using plastic shopping bags:
600 families in the school x2 shopping trips a week x4 bags a trip x52 weeks
= 249600 BAGS PER YEAR generated in one school only
x 50cents per shopping bag = R124800 spent on plastic bags.

Does this make sense? NOOOOOO!!!!! Was the resounding answer.

So, the eco club built a campaign. We did a lesson on campaign building and devised a Ban the Bag campaign strategy:

Hayley from the Two Oceans Aquarium was invited to talk to teachers and staff. This was followed by posters, presentations and activities being organised by the eco club. Some of these awareness activities were quite creative!

These plans culminated in 2018 with The Grove Primary beginning the year as a single-use plastic shopping bag-free school. Well done!

“The Grove pledges, for the good of the environment and our marine life, to no longer allow single-use plastic bags on our property. We will do our best to reduce and recycle plastic used in our school.” – The Grove Primary School's plastic free pledge.

The R20 "Grove Bag" is the reusable alternative that the school offers to the families they are trying to inspire change in.

We enjoyed The Grove's single-use plastic song, here it is if you'd like to sing along (sing along to the same tune as the chorus of Cheerleader by OMI):

Ooooo I think I found myself a plastic bag
But it’s so bad, do I really need it?

Ooooo I think I found myself a plastic bag
But it’s so bad, do I really need it?

Ooooo I think I found myself an Eco bag,
it’s always there when I need it

Ooooo I think I found myself an Eco bag,
it’s always there when I need it

Time to Rethink the Bag

Our oceans and environment are calling on us all to dial back our unhealthy relationship with disposable plastic - it's time to Rethink the Bag. Discover more about the Rethink the Bag campaign, see what else 5 Gyres ambassador Hayley McLellan has to say on the subject or find out what other organisations are banning the bag

Help us reach our goal of a plastic shopping bag free South Africa - your home, school, business or office could be SA's next bag-free zone!

blog comments powered by Disqus