Global plastic education initiative launches in UK primary schools

A new global initiative has launched within UK schools aimed at fostering awareness of plastic pollution amongst primary-aged children.

The Plastic Changemakers initiative, developed by educational non-profit organisation The Breteau Foundation, provides teachers with resources to educate their pupils on how to become advocates for responsible plastic use in their homes and communities. The launch comes as The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) releases the first draft of its legally binding Global Plastics Treaty which aims to eliminate plastic pollution worldwide by 2040.

The Breteau Foundation has collaborated with ZAG and Mediawan, makers of TV show Miraculous™: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir on the initiative to leverage the popularity of the Miraculous phenomenon to raise awareness among young audiences about plastic pollution.

The Plastic Changemakers Education Pack, comprised of five modules, all supported by the heroes from the Miraculous series, is now available for teachers to download for free. Over 4,500 teachers have already pre-registered to receive the resources. The resources seek to equip children aged 7-11 with the skills needed to tackle plastic waste by providing essential education on the subject.

Supporting the Education Pack, a new and unprecedented special episode of Miraculous™: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir called “Action” has been premiered where the characters of the show seek to demonstrate how small efforts can make a big impact in the fight against plastic.

Children take action

New research from The Breteau Foundation uncovered that there is a strong appetite amongst primary aged children to take action against plastic pollution: 92% of primary school teachers say pupils ask questions about plastic pollution, with a third (32%) saying they ask questions ‘all the time.’ The nationwide study of primary school teachers also demonstrates that teachers place a high value on environmental education, with primary school teachers ranking ‘environment and sustainability’ as more important for children to learn about than subjects such as geography, history, IT, physical education, art and music.

96% of teachers believed primary school children have the power to influence the attitudes and actions of their local community about plastic pollution. Two-thirds (62%) of teachers say pupils believe that individual actions can make an impact on the environmental issues facing our planet, including plastic pollution.

However, research released earlier this year by The Breteau Foundation reveals that primary teachers have been forced to spend their own money - £13 million in total - creating educational resources to teach pupils about the environment. Half of teachers (49%) who have requested additional resources or support to teach students about plastic pollution were met with no action.

Sebastian Breteau, founder of The Breteau Foundation said: “Plastic pollution is one of the most urgent global environmental problems we face today. According to Defra, we can expect an alarming threefold increase in the amount of plastic flowing into the ocean between 2016 and 2040 unless action is taken now.”

“It’s clear from our research that young children are hugely concerned about the impact of this issue and are motivated to learn more about how to address it, while teachers strongly believe that their pupils can be advocates on the fight against plastic pollution in their own communities. The Plastic Changemakers Education Pack and the special “Action” episode will provide educators with the vital resources they need to empower them to effect change.”
Julien Borde, President of Mediawan Kids & Family adds: "We are thrilled to partner with the Breteau Foundation and our long-standing partner Zag on a unique and impactful project. Raising awareness among the younger generation about environmental issues is an absolute necessity. The Miraculous universe provides an ideal platform to raise awareness among young audiences and their families about environmental themes."

Jeremy Zag, Founder and CEO of ZAG comments: “We are sensitive to ecology and environmental protection through the actions we plan to launch shortly within our future foundation ZAG Forest. In this context, it seemed obvious to us to participate in the initiative of the Breteau Foundation and to put our heroes at the service of this cause. Ladybug and Cat Noir are the best ambassadors of tomorrow’s issues and will be able to accompany children in their ability to create a better world. As the old saying goes, “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

The Plastic Changemakers Education Pack and “Action” episode are now available to access on The Breteau Foundation website, where educators can download the pack for free and stream the episode.

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