Plastic Free Schools badge from Surfers Against Sewage 2018

How To Become A Plastic Free School

Plastic pollution is an important topic of our times.  More and more evidence is showing us there is need to change our habits.  It is difficult to know where to start. Tackling this problem, that affects each and every one of us, will require action from us all.

Many of us are already looking for ways to reduce our own plastic use, from remembering to take our reusable bags to the shops, to collecting litter from our local beach, park or stream.

The question we want to answer for you is how can your school become a Plastic Free School? 


What Is  Plastic Free Schools? 

Plastic Free Schools is a Surfer’s Against Sewage movement with the aim to get rid of single-use plastic from our environment. It helps pupils understand the problems with plastic in the environment, teaches them to identify single-use items, question whether we need them, and look to replace them. It’s designed to help children learn the power of their own voice while creating lasting environmental change from the playground to parliament! 



Surfers Against Sewage Logo

Plastic Activities 

As part of the Plastic Free School campaign you will need to educate and teach students about plastic waste. Have a look at our teaching resources to help achieve this:  

Plastic Activity Finder

Top Ten Tips to Reduce Plastic Waste

Here are some of our own tips to reduce plastic use in your school. 

Top 10 Tips to Reduce Plastic Waste


Plastic Workshops

We work to deliver workshops, assemblies  and more to help embed the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) into the curriculum and everyday school life.

Find out more about our Plastic and Litter Workshops here.

Case Study 

Georgeham Primary School, Devon

In 2018,  Georgeham Primary School, became the first school in the UK to achieve the Plastic Free Schools status. 

How did they do it?

First, they looked at what plastics were in and around the school that weren’t necessary such as milk cartons, cling film and sauce packets.  Then they thought about ways to replace them. Here are just a few of the things they did: 

  • Contacted suppliers of milk carton
    s to change type of product to recyclable milk bottles.
  • Swapped from cling film to reusable  food tubs with lids
  • Swapped individual sauce packets to large sauce bottles with pump action attachments and a pump spray bottle for the vinegar
  • Contacted fruit and veg suppliers to reduce plastic from them
  • Swapped individual ice cream tubs to Arctic Roll in recyclable packaging

The result was not only a dramatic reduction of waste but also great cost savings too!

Plastic Free Schools badge from Surfers Against Sewage 2018

Keri Lambert, school dinner assistant at Georgeham Primary School pouring milk for pupils at Devon's first Plastic Free School

Image of Georgeham primary school children

External Resources

Find additional plastic free activities and resources from external organisations.

marine conservation society logoMarine Conservation SocietySign up for a beach clean led by one of the Beach Watch volunteer organisers or register your schools own event! They provide all the resources you need to get set up.

2 minute beach clean logoThe 2 Minute Foundation – Your school can join in on a drop-in group or book your class or entire school for an all day session with The 2 Minute Beach School. Or make use of their online resources.

Million mile clean logoMillion Mile Clean – Get involved with the Surfers Against Sewage ‘Million Mile Clean‘ initiative. You can clean any location, any time, just track your distance, submit your results and use the hashtag #MillionMileClean when posting on social media.

The Great Nurdle Hunt – You can take part in a nurdle hunt anytime and anywhere. All you need to do it count how many nurdles you see at your chosen location. Count how many you find, how long you were hunting and how many people took part. Then submit your data on their website!

Keep Britian Tidy logo Keep Britain Tidy – Become a #LitterHero by joining the #BigBagChallenge and pledge to pick up as much litter as you can during the campaign. The Ocean Recovery Project is also working to help volunteers recycle beach litter to be made into new items. You can also get access to free teaching resources.

Why not try any of these ideas at your school? We’d love to hear from you if you do!


Microplastics up Snowdon

Lake and mountains

This lesson plan will help students from Y5 to Y8 evaluate and assess some recent news stories from the waste industry, understanding what is going on and what might be happening behind the scenes when we read things online.

See more about improving digital and media literacy for KS2 and KS3 students on our PSHE and Life Skills related page on media literacy.

The activity here will help improve students’ critical thinking skills as they compare different types of information about microplastics found in a lake on Mount Snowdon.

Microplastics are released from plastic clothing (ie. clothes made from nylon, polyester – especially fleece – and acrylic) when they are washed, making their way into the environment through water courses and drains. Some microplastics may also be released into the air during active wear. Microplastics are invisible to the naked eye but can be seen under a microscopes. Spectral analysis can find out the type of plastic, and sometimes point to a source of the pollution.

Download Lesson Plan on Digital Literacy: Microplastics on Snowdon

Download Powerpoint for Digital Literacy Lesson: Microplastics on Snowdon

Plastic Worksheets

The science of materials is the basis of much recycling knowledge and helps scientists work out how to recycle stuff better. Many of the sorting machines used to separate out recycling rely on scientific principles; for example, some plastics are separated using floating and sinking machines.

Most plastic can be recycled everywhere in Devon. Plastic bottles, tubs and pots are recycled in kerbside collections (see our District Recycling Sheets). Hard plastics like toys and plastic outdoor chairs can be recycled at Household Waste Recycling Centres. Find your nearest one on our main Recycling website.

The worksheets on this page will help young people understand the science of the material called plastic. We hope doing these activities will create better scientists and more critical thinkers. We know the wicked problems (complex and difficult issues like climate change and biodiversity loss) we are leaving the next generation will need some innovative thinking to solve them!


Person in blue plastic gloves holiding a piece of clear plastic with background of scientific looking machine

Downloadable Worksheets

Key Stage 1 Worksheet: Properties of plastic

(pdf) Download KS1 Worksheet: Properties of plastic

(Word) Download KS1 Worksheet: Properties of plastic

Link to KS1 Quiz

Link to KS1 Properties of Plastic Zone YouTube Playlist

Key Stage 2 Worksheet: Comparing Straws

(pdf) Download KS2 Worksheet: Comparing Straws

(Word) Download KS2 Worksheet: Comparing Straws

(Word) Download KS2 Recording Sheet: Comparing Straws

Link to KS2 Quiz

Link to KS2 Plastics Zone Schools Playlist

Key Stage 3/4 Worksheet:

(pdf) Download KS3/4 Worksheet: Experiments in Floating and Sinking

(Word) Download KS3/4 Worksheet: Experiments in Floating and Sinking

(Powerpoint) Download KS3/4 Powerpoint: Experiments in Floating and Sinking

Link to KS3/4 Quiz – Floating and sinking

Link to KS3/4 Zone Youtube Playlist about Floating and Sinking

Home Education Worksheet: Comparing the Strength of Plastic Bags

(pdf) Download Home Education Worksheet: Comparing the Strength of Plastic Bags

(Word) Download Home Education Worksheet: Comparing the Strength of Plastic Bags

Visit our Home Education pages for more Activities suitable for Home Learning.

Plastic Worksheets: Home Activity

Downloadable Worksheets

Home Education Worksheet: Comparing the Strength of Plastic Bags

(pdf) Download Home Education Worksheet: Comparing the Strength of Plastic Bags

(Word) Download Home Education Worksheet: Comparing the Strength of Plastic Bags

Visit our Home Education pages for more Activities suitable for Home Learning.

Plastic Worksheets KS3-4

This activity will help KS3 and KS4 children to understand some of the properties of plastic as a material and the impacts on the environment. It links with the National Curriculum and is a fun and active way of teaching science.

Downloadable Worksheets

Key Stage 3/4 Worksheet:

(pdf) Download KS3/4 Worksheet: Experiments in Floating and Sinking

(Word) Download KS3/4 Worksheet: Experiments in Floating and Sinking

(Powerpoint) Download KS3/4 Powerpoint: Experiments in Floating and Sinking

Link to KS3/4 Zone Youtube Playlist about Floating and Sinking

Plastic Worksheets KS2

This activity will help KS2 children to understand some of the properties of plastic as a material and the impacts on the environment. It links with the National Curriculum and is a fun and active way of teaching science.

Downloadable Worksheets

Key Stage 2 Worksheet: Comparing Straws

(pdf) Download KS2 Worksheet: Comparing Straws

(Word) Download KS2 Worksheet: Comparing Straws

(Word) Download KS2 Recording Sheet: Comparing Straws

Link to KS2 Plastics Zone Schools Playlist

Plastic Worksheets KS1

Plastic bottles in a white recycle bag

This activity will help KS1 children (aged 5-7) to understand some of the properties of plastic as a material. It links with the National Curriculum and is a fun and active way of teaching science.

Downloadable Worksheets

Key Stage 1 Worksheet: Properties of plastic

(pdf) Download KS1 Worksheet: Properties of plastic

(Word) Download KS1 Worksheet: Properties of plastic

Link to KS1 Properties of Plastic Zone YouTube Playlist

Plastic Worksheets

The science of materials is the basis of much recycling knowledge and helps scientists work out how to recycle stuff better. Many of the sorting machines used to separate out recycling rely on scientific principles; for example, some plastics are separated using floating and sinking machines.

Most plastic can be recycled everywhere in Devon. Plastic bottles, tubs and pots are recycled in kerbside collections (see our District Recycling Sheets). Hard plastics like toys and plastic outdoor chairs can be recycled at Household Waste Recycling Centres. Find your nearest one on our main Recycling website.

The worksheets on this page will help young people understand the science of the material called plastic. We hope doing these activities will create better scientists and more critical thinkers. We know the wicked problems (complex and difficult issues like climate change and biodiversity loss) we are leaving the next generation will need some innovative thinking to solve them!

Quizzes coming soon!



Several plastic bottles standing in a line

Downloadable Worksheets

Plastic Quizzes

Key Stage 1 Worksheet: Properties of Plastic

(pdf) Download KS1 Worksheet: Properties of plastic

(Word) Download KS1 Worksheet: Properties of plastic

Link to KS1 Properties of Plastic Zone YouTube Playlist


Key Stage 2 Worksheet: Comparing Straws

(pdf) Download KS2 Worksheet: Comparing Straws

(Word) Download KS2 Worksheet: Comparing Straws

(Word) Download KS2 Recording Sheet: Comparing Straws

Link to KS2 Plastics Zone Schools Playlist


Key Stage 3/4 Worksheet:

(pdf) Download KS3/4 Worksheet: Experiments in Floating and Sinking

(Word) Download KS3/4 Worksheet: Experiments in Floating and Sinking

(Powerpoint) Download KS3/4 Powerpoint: Experiments in Floating and Sinking

Link to KS3/4 Zone Youtube Playlist about Floating and Sinking


Home Education Worksheet: Comparing the Strength of Plastic Bags

(pdf) Download Home Education Worksheet: Comparing the Strength of Plastic Bags

(Word) Download Home Education Worksheet: Comparing the Strength of Plastic Bags

Visit our Home Education pages for more Activities suitable for Home Learning.


Icons representing digital and media literacy

Media Literacy

We are surrounded by media in lots of different forms, whether it’s through the old style print media like newspapers or magazines, or websites, or social media. They are all written with a certain viewpoint. Every piece of writing has been written with a different agenda and a select audience in mind. In our ever changing and fast moving world we need to learn the skills to access, analyse, evaluate and create media in all its forms so we can gather a balanced view of the world around us and what is happening. This page will help teachers educate about media literacy, using examples from the waste industry, including subjects around the plastic pollution problem and other recent issues.

Watch the BBC Bitesize video on how to evaluate digital information and websites.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/clips/zw8mtfr


The information on this page can also be downloaded as a separate sheet.

Download Media Literacy Information

Four Principles of Digital Literacy:


There are four main principles of digital media literacy. When looking at items online it will help to consider these things:


What is the article about? Can you understand the message, both explicit (what is written about) and implicit (what message is conveyed/implied but left unsaid). What is the purpose of the article/video/picture/video/meme?

All digital media relates to another form of media somehow. What is the source of the article/video/picture/video/meme? Who made it? Where is the information contained in it from? Is it a reputable and verifiable source?

Sharing and passing on the message is critical in our everyday interactions with digital media. Who shared this with you? Was this suggested to you because of something else you clicked on? Who will you share it with? (THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK!)

Choosing what we like and don’t like has taken on a meaning of it’s own in our online lives. We need an awareness of where information has come to us from and who might have curated it for us to read or discover. How is this article/video/picture/video/meme stored and collected?

Questions to ask about media:


It is easy to be fooled by websites, posts or other online media. Use the prompts below to help decipher and decode what different websites or social media is telling you.


  • Who wrote the content?
  • Was it a company? Government? Individual?
  • Think about their possible bias or slant on the subject.
  • Why was it written? Think about what it is saying, both explicitly (plainly) or implicitly (is their a hidden message).
  • Do you trust the author?
  • Is the information out of date?
  • When was it written?
  • Is it believable?
  •     What does the design of the website tell you?
  •     Has it been made professionally?
  •     Are there spelling mistakes and grammatical errors?
  • Does an internet search including the words “fake” or “scam” come up with any hits?
  • Is it a verified source?
  • Where does the website appear in a search engine?
  • What might the ranking of the website in the search engine tell you?
  • Look for promotion of sponsored material or popular sites.
  • Is it promoted by another company or interest group?
  •     Does the website seem fair?

Questions to ask about images:


You can also go further with more research to understand the images that accompany posts and articles and help you decide if what you are seeing has actually happened or has been doctored to appear a certain way.


  •     Who took the picture?
  •     Who published the picture?
  •     Government? Individual?
  •     Think about their possible bias or slant on the subject
  •     Look for the oldest or original picture
  •     Why was it taken?
  •     Was it staged for dramatic effect?
  •     Are the images accurate?
  •     Have they been modified or changed in some way?
  •     Perform a reverse image search to find out the history and background of an image.
  •     Be skeptical, not cynical!
  •     Does the image seem a fair representation of the facts?

Microplastics on Snowdon!

This lesson plan will help students from Y5 to Y8 evaluate and assess some recent news stories from the waste industry, understanding what is going on and what might be happening behind the scenes when we read things online.

Download Lesson Plan on Digital Literacy: Microplastics on Snowdon

Download PowerPoint for Digital Literacy Lesson: Microplastics on Snowdon

The Textiles Conundrum

This lesson plan will help students from Y8 to Y11 evaluate and assess a contemporary waste management issue, understanding the current situation and what might be happening behind the scenes when we read stories and adverts online.

The Textile Industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. Find out more in the Ted Ed lesson here: https://ed.ted.com/on/uRCT8bE3.

Clothing and fashion companies are always trying to sell us more clothes. What can we do when we know that this is unsustainable? Some companies may also try to “greenwash” what they do, so it appears that they are following eco-conscious practices, while continuing to follow practices that cause harm to the environment. Often this means it can be hard to work out whether the company is genuinely trying to work hard to protect the environment, reduce their carbon footprint and reduce waste, or just trying to retain customers and maximise profits.

See the lesson plan below which will help older secondary age students analyse the information that is being given to them and make good choices when it comes to buying and disposing of clothes.

Download Lesson Plan on Digital Literacy: Understanding the textiles industry

Download Info and Question Cards on Digital Literacy: Understanding the textiles industry

Download PowerPoint for Digital Literacy Lesson: Understanding the textiles industry

More Information

There is loads of good quality information out there to understand what the internet and social media is trying to tell you, why you should question what you see sometimes and how to decipher and decode our ever more digital lives.

Here is a YouTube playlist of some useful information about fact checking your social media.

And a useful article about some fact-checking websites and there are also some fact-checking Twitter feeds like Factcheck.org and PolitiFact.