As a witness and contributor to the increasing use of plastic in schools, introducing other methods and feasible alternatives has noticeably become increasingly pivotal if we want to regain control over the spiralling escalation in plastic consumption.

The major damage to the environment, as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, cannot be overlooked. One undeniable negative impact is a substantial increase in the consumption of non-reusable plastics. What is more concerning is that the reliance on such materials has become excessive and often preventable in some instances over the past months. In order to minimise the risk of transmission schools, in particular, are relying on non-reusable plastics to cater for and protect the hundreds of students they look after every day. This increase is especially prevalent at lunchtimes. Instead of the usual crockery, schools have been pushed into using polystyrene bowls and plates, plastic cups and cutlery (which are protected by an additional plastic wrapping). This means in total pupils are typically using seven items of plastic every lunchtime. Even more alarming is how this average disregards other additional alternatives such as plastic fruit and salad pots available daily. As this only takes into consideration lunchtimes, the quantity of plastic consumed solely by one school on a daily average is exorbitant. Surely the exploitation of non-reusable plastics can be avoided in at least some aspects of school life. Although the change to plastic utensils displays a clear awareness of the risk of transmission, and great efforts to minimise it, other alternatives have to be considered. Indisputably, more environmentally responsible decisions such as the change to wooden cutlery should be one of the possible alternatives considered by such institutions. The benefits of wooden cutlery far outweigh any plausible benefits of plastic. For example, beneficially, wooden cutlery is made of renewable resources and is easily recycled. As the primary step to becoming more conscious and environmentally friendly, this small alteration can help to stabilise the dramatic increase in the use of non-renewable plastics as a consequence of the pandemic. 

Holly Timmis