Plastic Free High Schooler: No Time to Spare, Create Change Now

As a high schooler myself, I know how hectic life can get with balancing school work, extracurricular activities, and a social life. Everything is always so go-go-go, we often forget to stop and take a look at the world around us. We don’t notice the environment or the harmful effects our actions have because we’re so busy cramming for that math test. Unfortunately, as adolescents, we are constantly told that we’re so young and new to things that we shouldn’t have to worry about the “adult world”. I’m here to tell you that that’s completely wrong; we should worry about the “adult world” because soon enough it will be ours. We can advocate for change and it really doesn’t take that much work or commitment. I have even taken the liberty of taking the first steps to creating change by going into my own high school, talking with my principal and students, and bringing to light some observations on our school’s plastic waste.

A common trend among the interviewees was the recognition of plastic waste as a major growing issue. The primary concern is that plastic is such a commonly used item; it’s used in food wrapping, packaging, and straws, all prevalent in typical school lunches. Something I found very interesting was that there was a widespread understanding that our school shares the same responsibility and blame on this problem as the rest of society. We are all equal and we should act on this issue as if we are the same in order to maximize the effectiveness of our efforts.

Talking with my principal specifically, I found that in the past, although not much had been done within the school, a majority of the ideas that did come up were turned down. The main problem being the lack of awareness of the plastic waste issue, as well as a lack of personal interest in the matter. There simply is not enough initiative or encouragement within the school to make permanent changes. Although they would be very small adjustments, they would make a significant difference in our community.

Throughout my investigation, I found that for the most part, there is a shared ambition within the school to want to do something about the growing plastic waste issue. All of the individuals I was able to talk to seemed to agree that educating students and bringing awareness to this specific matter would be the most successful in establishing an overall interest throughout the school.

As a final note, I encourage other high school students to get out there and look to make a difference. You can be an advocate for change too, going within your own school, making your own observations, and finding effective solutions. Additionally, doing simple tasks like picking up and responsibly disposing of trash around the school, as well as packing your lunches using reusable packaging are great and easy ways you can make a difference. Even the smallest of actions matter and if we work collectively and collaboratively as a whole, we can tackle this issue together.  

~ Emi Kodra

Emi is a passionate high school student, dedicated to reducing plastic waste and encouraging her peers to do the same. She is part of the Plastic-Free YYC team as one of our leading youth ambassadors.

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I'm a passionate environmentalist at heart. Striving to create a difference in my community and in my home to make the world just a little bit better.