Imogen Davidson, from the Paraparaumu Beach School's student council, writes about the school's war on plastic

Each year at Paraparaumu Beach School a student council is formed. It is made up of leaders from Te Motu (Year 7/8 syndicate).

This year there are 14 student councillors focused on making a positive contribution to the school and the community. The students are myself, Emma-Jane Coggan, Maddie McDowell, Ella Finlay, Amelia Dow, Maggie Webb, Louise Scriven, Elena Groube, Liam Strawbridge, Shinae Bett, Grace Garret, Anika Barr, Rico Albert and Corban Dellar.

While the councillors take on different roles through the year, they very much work as a team.

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This year's student council started off by talking to students to get their ideas.

It became clear that the main issue was all the plastics getting into the waterways and the impact this was having on the marine life. The council then decided to start a project called Let's Wage War on Plastic!

This project was focused on making single-use plastic extinct from the school within a few years. They talked about possible solutions to the problem. They came up with some ideas about how to reduce and dispose of the plastic in our area.

They soon found out that New World was running a soft plastic packaging project. I reached out asking if New World would be able to help out and pick up our plastic each week. Alison Young, the manager of Kapiti New World, was really encouraging and explained how the system worked and what could and could not go in the soft plastic bins. There was much learning including what actually happens to the soft plastic and how it gets turned into useful things like park benches.

Liam then made a proposal to Mitre 10 Mega asking if they could supply us with buckets for each classroom. Vince Indo, the owner of Mitre 10 Mega Kapiti, was so generous and gave us 30 buckets for free. The buckets were labelled and instructions put on to the bins. The council also made a video showing the effect soft plastic has on the environment and giving students information about the recycling scheme.

In August, a beach clean-up was organised by Ella and Shinae. Families from our community were invited to help stop plastic from polluting the oceans and waterways. Everyone was so pleased as about 90 volunteers turned out and took heaps of plastics and rubbish off the beach.

The council had heaps of help from Ben Knight from Sustainable Coastlines and Katherine Buttar from Kapiti Coast District Council getting this organised. Ben and Katherine have also been working with Te Moana (Year 5/6 syndicate) and Te Motu (Year 7/8 syndicate) through the year.

In August, a poster competition designed to raise awareness was also held. The posters needed to be about improving the environment and reflect our message about reducing the use of plastics. Again, loads of people got involved and heaps of awesome posters were created from across the school. The winning posters have been displayed in the Paraparaumu Library.

The school and student council has worked hard on this project. We hope the wider community will recognise the damage plastic does to our waters, our marine animals, and our environment and what we all can do to improve the situation. Our goal is that our world will be in much better shape for the next generation and we don't continue to make the same mistakes.