International schools tackle plastic pollution with Earth Day Challenge

April 22, 2019

This month, a group of international schools in Muscat are teaming up to tackle the problem of plastic pollution by asking people all over Oman to take their Earth Day Challenge.

Their efforts will be one of the many thousands of environmental actions happening around the world for international Earth Day on April 22.

The magnitude of the harm caused by plastic pollution has become alarmingly clear in the past few years. Shocking photos of researchers extracting over 40kg of plastics from the stomach of a whale found on a Philippine beach last month graphically illustrated the deadly nature of ocean plastics to marine life; Indeed, millions of sea birds, turtles, marine mammals and others die every year from ocean plastics. And that’s not all. We now also know that small plastic particles, known as microplastics, enter our own food chain through the fish we consume and our water. Studies have found plastic particles in fish at every level of the food chain, in the majority of drinking water sampled - even in the air we breathe.

With initiatives to ban or limit single use plastics being put in place in many countries around the world, growing awareness is finally leading to action. The choices we make as individuals also have a big role to play.

“Many of our kids are aware of the harm plastic does, particularly to turtles or other marine life,” said Tim Sloman, principal of Ourplanet International School. “Many of them will tell us how they saw bags or bottles at the beach and they picked them up and threw them in the garbage, which is great. But it also makes us realise that we need to do more to support the kids so that the garbage isn’t there in the first place.”

With 80 per cent of marine plastics coming from the land, this will mean weaning ourselves off single use plastics and switching to reusable items instead.

To get this message across, eco-clubs at Ourplanet, American British Academy, The Sultan’s School and Al Sahwa got together and created their Earth Day Challenge video, showing how we can replace single use plastic bags, bottles, mugs and takeaway containers with reusable alternatives.

“Making small changes to the way we shop and consume can have a big impact, and are easy to do,” said Lenka Leslie, an Ourplanet parent involved in the campaign. “For example in Europe, people are already in the habit of bringing reusable bags to the supermarket, as often there’s no other option or there is a charge.”

With the Earth Day Challenge video, the schools hope to inspire people in Oman to try new things and become more sustainable.

The Oman Earth Day Challenge video has been launched on social media, and has already spawned much interest, TLC International School Oman, TAISM and other schools joining in too.

Hi FM will also be supporting the challenge, and giving a platform for students get their thoughts out on air.

To find out more about the challenge, see www.earthdayoman.com or search #earthdayoman2019 on social media.