Millthorpe public school students rally to reduce soft plastics.

School is all about learning, so here’s a quick bit of maths for everyone to ponder.

If 275 students use 324 pieces of soft plastic in one recess, how much soft plastic would be used by all 477,258 public primary school students in NSW in one recess?

Like all good school quizzes, the answer is at the end of this article, and it’s those kind of numbers that inspired some of the students at Millthorpe Public School to be a part of the Big School Walkout Day last Friday.

The idea came from year 1-2 student Joanie Tink who spoke to her teacher Lisa Roffe about the walkout day before speaking about it to the class.

“We decided as a class to support the concept but make it relevant to the school and we discussed how we wouldn’t be able to strike and we would need to get permission from Jo Jackett, the principal here at Millthorpe Public,” Mrs Roffe said.

Mrs Jackett said that the students had completed a unit of work on recycling and plastics and were interested in getting some recycling bins in the school playground.

“We told them that they can’t strike because then they wouldn’t be working, but they could talk about the issue at the primary assembly where they counted the plastics and make their presentation to the parents,” she said.

’This all came from the students and not the parents nor the teachers, they’re really engaged in this issue.”

Mrs Roffe said that already since Friday there has been a noticeable difference as the kids go home and tell their parents that they no longer want snacks and food in plastic bags, rather they have food, or as they say ‘Nude food’, packed safely away in hard containers.

“The kids are asking their parents not to use single serve packets of chips and biscuits rather they should buy in bulk and put them in reusable containers,” Mrs Roffe said.

For year 2 student Tristan Bennett, the change at home hasn’t been that difficult.

“We are supporting Nude Food Day so put food in hard plastic containers, pop corn in paper bags and stop wrapping everything in cling wrap,” he said.

  • ANSWER: That’s an average of 1.18 pieces of soft plastic per student. Multiply that by the 477,258 students in the NSW public primary school system, that’s 527,764 pieces of plastic every recess, every school day.