Photo by IISD/Francis Dejon
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UNEP and the animation studio Kurzgesagt have launched the ‘Back to School Plastic Challenge,’ which invites youth groups and schools to reduce and eliminate single-use plastics in their daily lives.

UNEP is encouraging schools and participating groups to enter their solutions in UNEP’s ‘Clean Seas Back to School Awards’.

UNEP is accepting entries to the challenge until 10 January 2019.

19 September 2018: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment) has partnered with the animation studio Kurzgesagt to launch the ‘Back to School Plastic Challenge.’ The Challenge encourages schools and youth groups to reduce and eliminate single-use plastics in their daily lives.

According to UNEP, 13 million tonnes of plastic trash find their way into the oceans each year, posing threats to marine animals and plants and human health. Consequently, UNEP describes marine plastic pollution as “one of the biggest environmental challenges of our time.”

Schoolchildren are encouraged to talk to politicians about how they can reduce single-use plastic in their communities.

To support the Challenge, UNEP has developed a ‘Back to School Education Pack’ that aims to provide an overview of marine plastic pollution and showcase examples of solutions that schools and communities can implement to reduce and eliminate single-use plastic. The pack includes an animation video produced by Kurzgesagt that tells the story of how humans discovered how to make plastic and how the creation of plastic has created problems. The video underscores that humans have the power to tackle marine plastic pollution, including through the Back to School Plastic Challenge.

Suggested actions include to:

  • ask schools to stop using single-use plastic items in school lunches and the cafeteria;
  • avoid plastic items when buying back-to-school supplies;
  • avoid using plastic for wrapping lunch items and instead buy a lunch box or use paper;
  • work with your school to find ways your school can reduce its plastic footprint;
  • participate in a beach clean up with fellow students;
  • talk to politicians about how they can reduce single-use plastic in your community; and
  • educate friends and family about marine plastic pollution.

UNEP encourages schools to report on their actions and share their stories with UNEP’s Clean Seas team to be considered for the ‘Clean Seas Back to School Awards.’ The Agency is accepting entries to the challenge until 10 January 2019. It will then review the submitted actions and recognize the best and most innovative solutions through the awards. [UNEP Press Release] [UNEP Education Pack]

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