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Fight against plastic waste


Julie Csar


Educational activity to strengthen environmental
awareness at the Secondary School 1 of Golo-Djigbé

Report on the campaign on the topics
"Where to with the garbage?",
“Waste separation at home or in landfills”,
“What does plastic do to our health and environment?”,
“How do we keep our district clean?”
in Aïtchédji

Report on the educational campaign
about the damage plastic causes in the world
and in particular the use of plastic bags,
at the secondary school of Ahossougbeta

In the run up to the awareness campaign, Mr. Hospiz Godonou, our animator, visited the Beninese Ministry of Environment and introduced our project. There they were very pleased about this action, as recently a law had been passed prohibiting the use and even the possession of plastic bags, both to be severely punished. In Benin, hot food is usually sold in plastic bags. Especially in schools, when selling lunch, the plastic bag is used as a replacement for plates. The health problems are enormous. Therefore, the government of Benin is trying to counteract this calamity. They gave Mr Godonou the text of the newly passed law and instructions for carrying out the sensitization.

1st workshop

In a first workshop, we worked with representatives from all classes. Mr. Godonou asked the students if they were aware of the damage plastic bags are causing to our planet and our health. Most of the students had heard about it but were unsure if a life without plastic would be possible. Mr. Godonou then showed the movie "Plastic Planet". Every now and then a pause was taken so that the students could react to what they saw. The consternation was great. The heaps of plastic garbage on Beninese roadsides are well known to everyone and they put all passers-by in discomfort. But the students were not aware until then that the whole world is affected by the problem.

Mr. Godonou explained the various problems that arise through plastic.

1. for human health:
  • Increase in cancer
  • Increase in infertility
  • Increase in obesity
  • difficulty in concentrating
  • Headache and eczema on the head (through the use of synthetic hair for hairstyles)
  • Forgetfulness
2. for our earth:
  • Destruction of the oceans
  • Dying of animals
  • Poultry lose their legs through synthetic hair that wraps around their legs
  • Destruction of the ozone layer (when burning plastic)
  • Promotion of global warming
  • Increased frequency of floods (plastic buried in the ground prevents seepage of rainwater - a big problem for the city of Cotonou)
  • Infertility of the earth
Subsequently, it was discussed what could be used to replace plastic. The initial helplessness disappeared as Mr. Godonou told how things were packaged and sold before plastic conquered the world. The methods, which were initially considered back-worldly by the students, got a new shine. With pride, packaging made of leaves was valued as a modern and pristine commodity of Benin. Furthermore, there has been talk about the use of other environmentally friendly materials, for example: Paper bags, cloth bags and biodegradable bags.

As a homework assignment, students were asked to talk to their parents, families, and friends about plastic. They should report about their experiences at the second workshop.

2nd workshop

On the second day, the students reported their conversations at home and with friends. Some parents reacted aggressively because they use plastic bags for sale themselves. Only in a second or third conversation were they ready to accept change. But there were also parents who reacted with enthusiasm. Some mothers had sat down at their sewing machines to sew cloth bags and start a business. We realized that our students had become real ambassadors against plastic.

Next we discussed how to better disseminate the information on the garbage problem. The students decided to create a play. In groups, the idea of the play was developed and texts written. Then there was the first rough performance, which was judged by all present with much applause.

The following two weeks, the students met three times a week with Mr. Godonou. They worked in secret on the play.

3. festival of sensitization

To our great joy many parents came to the party. The students had aroused curiosity through talks. After the introductory words, the students presented the problem of "plastic" all by themselves. The play was a great success. Mr. Godonou then deepened some points and answered questions from the parents.

The music group "Vie et Culture" had composed a new song for this activity, which was presented to us at this day of the festival. Like a wildfire, the words and melodies of the song were memorized and sung by everyone present.

At the end bags of paper, cloth and biodegradable material were distributed. The parents noted down contact addresses of providers, where the "new" bags could be bought.

The festival ended in a happy party with a lot of dancing to the rhythms of "Vie et Culture".