ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – A student at Kent Denver School helped launched a national campaign to reduce single use plastics around the world. She’s doing so by encouraging classmates and her community to take the pledge and track their progress against other schools around the country.
“They’re just pieces of plastic that you’re going to use once and throw away,” said Alexandra Haymons, a senior at the school. “They’re everywhere, we’ve really created what we call a disposal mindset.”
Haymons learned about the no2plastic campaign from a family friend and helped to create the campaign schools are now participating in from coast to coast. The environment has been a passion of hers for years and teachers note she has committed to working on this issue as a student.
“I think it’s incredibly inspiring, I think in our world we need a lot of leadership,” said Bradley Jackson, dean of students for the class of 2020. “What we encourage in our students is leadership is finding what you’re passionate and what you love and then diving into it.”
Students taking the pledge will reduce their use of plastic bottles, straws, and cutlery. Replacing those items with reusable products or declining to use those items when possible. The website will track not only the individual pledges but calculate the potential impact the school will have on the environment by the number of items reduced from their community’s commitment.
“We’ve grown to rely on just using something once for the pure convenience of it,” Haymons told CBS4 on Tuesday. “We don’t really think about where it’s going to go and what it’s going to impact later on.”
She introduced the campaign to her peers at an assembly on Monday, one of two schools to begin the campaign as more schools continue to join the cause nationwide this week. Haymons says her classmates already know to reuse bottles and access water refilling stations on campus. But she says they can go a step further by carrying their own set of cutlery with them that is reusable as well as metal straws or drinking without one.
“It’s everywhere in our day-to-day lives, and it can be really hard to cut these things down but it’s very important to do it, especially right now,” she said.
One day after pitching the pledge to her school, she already had 187 community members signed up on behalf of the school. The site will track all communities on board through the 2019-2020 school year. Kent Denver School invites it students to lead discussion and help plan assemblies that take place on campus each week. Haymons requested time to speak about the no2plastic campaign on Monday.
“Change starts on an individual level,” Haymons said. “We can make a difference just in a couple everyday choices.”
Her passion for the issue goes well beyond this latest initiative. Another project had her dissecting a trout to find microplastics. The experiment along with the pledge try to highlight that not only is there a pollution crisis harming the environment but it is also taking its toll on the health of humans and other living organisms on the planet.
“It’s a global crisis that needs our immediate attention,” she said. “As more people learn about the cause and the issue, more people will want to reduce their single item impact.”
Targeting teens in school also encourages a demographic that cannot vote to make their voices heard. Haymons says that individual acts can lead to influence on corporations taking similar steps to help the environment. A reason she and leaders at her school more students follow her lead.
“Change doesn’t have to come from policymakers at first, it can come from people like you or I,” she said.