Making school plastic-shopping-bag free

Wynberg Girls’High School’s enviro club programme is creating green ripples in the community.

A desperate drive to reboot their recycling project has turned into a challenge to make the school plastic-shopping-bag free by Tuesday July 3.

It all began earlier this year after environmental campaigner at the Two Oceans Aquarium Hayley McLellan’s visit to the school, following another visit last year.

Wynberg teacher and eco warrior Carryn Underhill said the enviro club had been active for many years – doing beach clean-ups, starting a fynbos garden, participating in an alien vegetation hack and screening environmental documentaries – but it wanted to get involved in a wider community of environmental campaigners.

Pupil Sarah Lee who heads the Rethink the Bag project said they designed the reusable bag last year but it took longer than expected to get it made.

Megan Farquhar said it was second nature to accept plastic bags at shopping tills and that attitude needed to change.

Enviro club members are asking pupils and teachers past and present to pledge to eliminate using plastic bags.

“Not to throw them away but to use them until it’s no longer possible and not to accept more,” said Sarah.

Ms Underhill said the school registered with the Wildlife and Environment Society’s (WESSA) Eco School programme in 2017.

“We have been awarded a bronze certificate and the club is growing so we now have a committee with a strong team leading and promoting our different projects,” said Ms Underhill.

Another project is to produce eco-bricks – two litre cooldrink bottles stuffed with non-biological waste to create a reusable building block – and build a bench with them.

Club members also get new pupils involved by getting them to paint rocks which are placed in the fynbos garden.

Ms McLellan believes it is important to tap into schools with a campaign such as Rethink the Bag as children are already consumers.

She said Wynberg Girls’ High, Prestwich Street Primary and Grove Primary had gone plastic-shopping-bag free on their school premises. “There’s a big drive for the Rethink the Bag campaign to be adopted by all South African schools in 2018. It will work if each school challenges another. We will have plastic shopping bag free kids and families all around South Africa in the blink of an eye,” said Ms McLellan.

Wynberg Girls’ have challenged Wynberg Boys’ High School to join them in the challenge.

For more information about the Rethink the Bag campaign, visit or call Hayley McLellan at 021 814 4532.