Plastic-Free July – How Can You Reduce Plastic Waste?

how can schools reduce plastic waste during plastic-free july and throughout the year?

With plastic-free July here for 2022, you might be wondering how your school can reduce its plastic use and waste. And this doesn’t just apply to July – avoiding plastic year-round is important for all schools who need to reduce their environmental impact and promote a sustainable future amongst children.


1. Education

As a school, one of the largest impacts you can have is by teaching younger generations to adopt good habits, and the same applies to plastic waste. You can teach students about the harmful effects of plastic and actionable ways they can avoid its use throughout their daily life.

This will hopefully help them to reduce bringing single-use plastics into school and will set them up with great habits for the future! Therefore, not only will you start to reduce the school’s plastic waste, but you’ll have a positive impact on hundreds of people in the future as they practice the plastic avoidance habits you taught them.


2. Choose Plastic-Free Suppliers

One of the largest sources of plastic waste for your school almost certainly comes from your suppliers. Whether it’s deliveries of plastic products or items covered in plastic, it’s a massive contribution to your plastic use and waste. To avoid this problem, you could ask your supplier to provide plastic-free packaging, switch supplies from plastic to wood for example, or ultimately switch to a supplier who already offers plastic-free deliveries.

It sounds like a difficult task that is unlikely to be approved by your supplier, but there have been cases of major success before. For example, Damer’s First School in Dorset requested that their fruit and veg supplier delivered without any plastic. After some perseverance, the supplier switched to plastic free deliveries and thanks to its success are now looking to roll it out to other schools they supply.


3. Rethink Catering Options

Another major contributor to plastic waste is likely to be your school catering. Many food products come in plastic to help them remain fresh for longer or store better in fridges and freezers. Rethinking your catering could help you to switch out plastics for other materials and even reduce food waste too.

For example, you could look to replace single-serve packaging with bulk containers that can be served on an individual basis, such as sauce sachets for large tubs or bottles that can be pumped, or switching yoghurt pots for larger containers that can be served freshly into bowls.


4. More Water Bottle Filling Stations and Water Fountains

Rather than having plastic cups at filling stations, an effective way to get rid of plastic from your school is to make sure your water stations are a) refillable by bottle and b) can be drunk straight out of.

By doing so, you’ll eliminate the need for a large amount of single-use plastic that is otherwise disposed of after every drink. This also promotes healthier drinking habits as children will have their water bottles with them throughout the day rather than going to use a cup each time.


5. Organise a Clean-up

Plastic waste doesn’t just affect your school, it also affects surrounding paths, parks, rivers, and beaches. A great way to get everyone involved and to generate real world awareness of the plastic problem is to organise a school clean up, where your students can go out and clear up a heavily littered area.

This is a fantastic way to promote plastic-free July and will help kids to understand and visualise the problem. What’s even better about clean ups is that your school can also directly contribute to the clearing of plastic waste, potentially helping it to be recycled and preventing it from harming the local environment.


Your school can play an essential role in reducing plastic waste not only this July, but throughout the year and throughout the lives of your students. There are many more ways that you minimise its use within your school but hopefully these five tips are a good starting point to eliminate the vast majority of wasteful plastic that you might currently be using.