zero wast week logo

Students for Zero Waste Week: March 20 – April 21, 2017

Students are inviting their local communities to "Go Green and Think Blue" by joining them in the annual Students for Zero Waste Week campaign. During this campaign, students focus on reducing land-based waste in order to protect the health of local marine environments. These young leaders are raising awareness of how single-use plastic and other types of litter affect the health of local watersheds, national marine sanctuaries, and the ocean. In addition, some schools are looking at ways to reduce their energy use on campus with hopes of raising awareness of how the burning of fossil fuels also impacts the health of the ocean.

REGISTER HERE for Students for Zero Waste Week 2017

Registration deadline for Zero Waste Week: March 17, 2017

What is "Students for Zero Waste Week"?

  • Students for Zero Waste Week is a school-driven, week-long campaign to reduce waste on school campuses and within local communities with the intention of moving towards zero waste.
  • As part of Students for Zero Waste Week campaign, attention is focused on, but is not limited to reducing single-use plastics items.
  • Students for Zero Waste Week is a great opportunity to raise school and community awareness about how we all can reduce waste and be better ocean stewards!
  • Students for Zero Waste Week is a separate campaign from the Ocean Guardian School program. Any K-12 school is welcome to participate in Students for Zero Waste Week without having to participate in the Ocean Guardian School program. In addition, Ocean Guardian Schools are NOT required to participate in Students for Zero Waste Week.
colored pencil drawing of flowers in a lightbulb vase

Zero Waste Week at your school

  • Choose the best week for your school to participate during March 20 – April 21, 2017
  • The extent to which your school is involved is up to your school!
  • Students and their communities are encouraged to share their progress on social media using #zerowasteweek.
  • For more information about Zero Waste Week and how to involve your school, view the Zero Waste Week informational video .

Zero Waste In Action!

The Coral Keepers in action -- sans straws. Photo courtesy of Susan Tate
The Coral Keepers in action -- sans straws. Photo courtesy of Susan Tate

Students make a big impact when it comes to reducing marine debris! This year, students from Whitehall Middle School in Whitehall, Michigan launched a campaign to raise awareness about plastic straw pollution. Under the advisement of 8th grade Earth science teacher Susan Tate, the group of students -- who call themselves the Coral Keepers -- decided to petition the National Day Calendar organization to create “National Skip the Straw Day.” The day launched this year and will occur each year on the fourth Friday in February.

Up to 500 million straws are used each day in the United States, and all that plastic can have a negative effect on marine and Great Lakes wildlife. Instead of biodegrading, plastic straws break down into smaller pieces called microplastics, which are frequently mistaken for food by wildlife. The Coral Keepers’ initiative helps raise awareness about the problems of plastic pollution.

Skip the straw

This spring, students at Whitehall Middle School will be continuing their efforts to reduce marine debris by participating in Students for Zero Waste Week. The Coral Keepers are organizing a school-wide letter writing campaign to encourage restaurants to decrease their reliance on single-use plastic. Students will encourage the use of paper straw over plastic, signage that reminds people to skip the straw, and policies of straws on request; students may also write restaurants about foam takeout boxes, plastic silverware, and other items that have the potential to become marine debris.

Through their Skip the Straw Day initiative and Students for Zero Waste Week, Whitehall Middle School students are leading the charge to care for marine habitats. By educating their communities in person and online, students like these can raise awareness and create lasting change for our ocean and Great Lakes.

Zero Waste Week Challenge

Students for Zero Waste Week invites you to take the Zero Waste Week Challenge to reduce waste at your school, in your community and at home. The list below is not complete. Can you think of other ways to reduce waste and help keep our ocean clean?

illustration of a whale
  • Replace single use plastic items (such as drink bottles, sandwich baggies, snack bags, spork packs, etc.) with reusable alternatives
  • Use cloth napkins instead of paper
  • Step up your recycling and composting efforts
  • Replace single use condiment packets with bulk dispensers
  • Replace plastic straws with paper straws or consider not using straws
  • Power down your computers and other electronic devices when not in use
  • Refuse products containing microbeads

Students for Zero Waste Week encourages participating schools to use Litterati to help document litter hotspots and identify the most common brands and products that make up litter profiles.

Students for Zero Waste Week was established in 2013 by eight schools in and around the Carmel River watershed in central California. These eight schools are part of NOAA's Ocean Guardian School program, a program funded through the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries which encourages students to become "guardians" of the ocean through stewardship-based projects on campus and in their communities.

For more information, contact Alyssa Nally at Alyssa.nally@noaa.gov


Posters

screenshot of zero waste week poster from Carmel school

Zero Waste Week Poster

Zero Waste Week poster from Carmel Middle School, Carmel CA

screenshot of zero waste week poster from Carmel school

Zero Waste Week Poster

Zero Waste Week poster from Hillcrest School, Oakland CA

screenshot of zero waste week poster from Carmel school

Zero Waste Week Poster

Zero Waste Week poster from Los Arboles Middle School, Marina CA

screenshot of zero waste week poster from Carmel school

Zero Waste Week Poster

Zero Waste Week poster from Los Arboles Middle School, Marina CA

screenshot of zero waste week poster from Carmel school

Zero Waste Week Poster

Zero Waste Week poster from Watsonville High School, Watsonville CA

screenshot of zero waste week poster from  Leone High School

Zero Waste Week Poster

Zero Waste Week poster from Leone High School, Pago Pago, American Samoa

screenshot of zero waste week poster from Seaside High School

Zero Waste Week Poster

Zero Waste Week poster from Seaside High School, Seaside, CA

screenshot of zero waste week poster from Todd Academy, Corona, CA

Zero Waste Week Poster

Zero Waste Week poster from Todd Academy, Corona, CA

screenshot of zero waste week poster from Walters Junior High School, Fremont, CA

Zero Waste Week Poster

Zero Waste Week poster from Walters Junior High School, Fremont, CA

screenshot of zero waste week poster from Hillcrest School, Oakland, CA

Zero Waste Week Poster

Zero Waste Week poster from Hillcrest School, Oakland, CA

screenshot of zero waste week poster from Hillcrest School, Oakland, CA

Zero Waste Week Poster

Zero Waste Week poster from Hillcrest School, Oakland, CA

screenshot of zero waste week poster from Hillcrest School, Oakland, CA

Zero Waste Week Poster

Zero Waste Week poster from Hillcrest School, Oakland, CA