Monday, July 30, 2018

Trash Hero Partners with MAP




Environmental Education Class at Bang Kang Khao School, Trang, Thailand

Written by Kate Knight, Office Development & Field Project Assistant (MAP-Asia Intern)

Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time. Scientists have tried to measure just how much plastic ends up in our Oceans and found more than 8 million tones of plastic are dumped in our Oceans every year.  This significantly impacts on marine wildlife, who often mistake marine debris for food and clog their intestines or they become trapped in plastic waste and discarded fishing nets.  Plastic pollution affects nearly 700 different marine species with over 100 million marine mammals and turtles in the North Pacific being killed every year by plastic in the Ocean. The plastic problem is not much bigger anywhere else than in Thailand where they are ranked 6th among countries in the world with the highest amounts of plastic production and usage.  Thailand has been recently plagued with two high profile deaths of a rare pilot whale and endangered green turtle whose autopsies both showed stomachs packed with plastic. The whale, specifically, had around 80 plastic bags found in its stomach!

This led the basis for MAP-Thailand’s most recent Environmental Education (EE) class on Thursday 19th July 2018 held at Bang Kang Khao school, Sikao District, Trang. In total 25 children and 4 teachers took part in the afternoon class. We are, as ever, grateful to our funder the LUSH Charity Pot Foundation but also to Trash Heroes, Trang Chapter, who collaborated with MAP to provide a fun and insightful Environmental Education class. Trash Heroes is an International Non-Profit Organization, that organize beach clean ups across the globe as well as raise invaluable awareness around waste reduction and waste disposal. The Trang Chapter, organizes weekly clean-ups of Pak Meng beach in Trang and are involved in supporting the construction of a bamboo school in Kanchanaburi by providing eco-bricks for wall construction.  The bamboo school is not yet complete but has so far used over 2000 ecobricks, made from waste collected by Trash Heroes Trang.  You may ask “What is an Ecobrick?”  Please read on to find out!

Students and teachers attended the Environmental Class organized by MAP and Trash Hero Trang.

Trash Hero International Homepage: https://trashhero.org/
Trang Chapter’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrashHeroTrang/

The event started with a PowerPoint presentation from MAP, that included provoking photos and videos about marine debris and plastic pollution. Students sat engagingly and interacted by answering quick fire questions from Ning, MAP-Thailand’s Field Officer and presenter on the day. Students learned about how long it actually takes for plastic and other types of waste to degrade and about how plastic pollution affects the environment and wildlife. Stories from Thailand, such as that of the pilot whale that washed up on the Gulf of Thailand with a gut full of plastic, was used to illustrate the growing problem that plastic causes for the environment locally and across the world.

Students eager to answer questions on plastic pollution from Ning

After this, Trash Hero took over, to organize a series of educational games. First, was an exercise on the correct way to dispose of different types of waste. Students were split into teams and given a variety of types of garbage. They had to place each piece into the right ‘bin’ – recyclable, non-recyclable, electronic or hazardous waste and compostable. It became apparent to MAP and Trash Hero staff that students actually had little knowledge around this and most often did not differentiate between recyclable and non-recyclable rubbish, despite having the different types of bins at the school. Students learnt a lot from the exercise and they are now armed with the knowledge to put into practice what they have learnt when at school, at home and in their wider community.

Secondly, students were given a demonstration on how to make ecobricks from empty (PET) plastic bottles and plastic wrap, bags and waste.  The idea is to utilize all those types of plastic materials that are presently non-recyclable in Thailand and normally are burnt or sent to landfill sites. Students really enjoyed making the ecobricks using bamboo sticks to stuff the bottles and compress the plastic till the bottles are very solid.  The plastic must be clean and dry and it was discovered a huge amount of plastic can be compressed into a single 1.5 L bottle.  Students took home what they had started in the class along with the equipment needed to complete the ecobrick. They now have the knowledge and materials to continue making ecobricks from plastic waste at home and at school. Bang Kang Khao School has agreed to set up a collection point for ecobricks made by the students that MAP can collect when they visit the school and ensure they are handed over to Trash Hero for construction of the Bamboo School in Kanchanaburi.  Students can feel proud to actually help build a school for orphans far away.

Students enjoying making ecobricks from plastic waste and empty plastic bottles.

Both girls and boys took part in the activity.

A big effort was noticed from all students, especially in compacting the plastic.

Students were shown a video on ecobricks that included footage of the ecobricks being used to construct the Bamboo School in Kanchanaburi. This helped students conceptualize how plastic waste, ordinarily a negative for the environment and huge eye-sore, can be repurposed to build something constructive and positive. Trash Hero spent time to explain how different waste is reused in different ways; plastic can be used to form ecobricks and Tetra Pak packaging can be used to make roof tiles. TatraPak (Thailand) Co., Ltd., are a leading manufacturer of UHT Beverage Boxes made from plastic and aluminum foil that are extremely popular throughout Thailand but also very difficult to recycle. They have partnered with other organizations such as the Thai retail giant Big C to create collection points for the UHT boxes, where they are then used to make roofs as part of their Green Roof Project.
Video on ecobricks link: https://youtu.be/RBplmic4XWc

Website about Tetra Pak’s Green Roof Project link: https://www.tetrapak.com/th/thaigreenroof
Overall the environmental education was very successful. Students were engaged and learned a lot about the ever-pressing issues of plastic pollution, its impacts and some solutions to mitigate these impacts. Between MAP and Trash Heroes Trang, the important three Rs - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – were continually reinforced. Students who attended the class were given stainless steel cups to use for drinking and explained how to use them to reduce the use of single use plastic bottles. We hope to be able to collaborate again with Trash Heroes Trang on other Environmental Education classes and also on the possibility of creating a plastic free school model in the future.
To see more photos from the event, check out the complete photo album on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/MangroveActionProject/posts/10156695044779756


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