Sustainability Tip: Lead by Example by Reducing Plastic Waste in Your PTA!

Last month, we shared ideas for how families can take simple steps to reduce their plastic waste by making some lifestyle changes at home. If you want more inspiration, check out Juanita High School Earth Corps’ weekly sustainability tips on Instagram at their handle, juanita_earthcorps!

This month we’re going to apply the same concept to our PTAs as we did to our homes by looking at the events, activities, and programs our PTAs support and assessing whether any of them involve unnecessary plastic. This should be a group effort and it won’t get done overnight. So, bring the idea to your next board meeting to start the conversation. Also, involve your kids in the discussion every step of the way! Even if your PTA doesn’t change much this year, you can start planning now and set the stage for next year!

plastic waste

To get started:

  1. Sit down (virtually speaking) with your board (and committee chairs, if possible) and watch a brief video about the WHY. This is very important if you want buy-in. These are the links we shared last month, in addition to a few new ones, to better understand the crisis at hand:
    • BBC – How did we get to a world full of plastic? (2 min)
    • BBC – Sir David Attenborough’s plastic message (3 min)
    The Plastic Bag Diet (4 min)
    The Story of Bottled Water (8 min)
  2. Ask each Committee Chair or activity/program lead to make a list of the items they require to run their program/activity. Don’t forget staff appreciation luncheons and events! Have each lead review their budget for how they spent funds in the past.
  3. Identify any sources of plastic, especially single-use plastic. Here are some possible sources:
    • Plastic water bottles
    • Plastic baggies
    • Plastic toys or trinkets
    • Single-serving snacks in wrappers
    • Plastic straws, plates, cups (including coffee cups), lids or utensils
    • Clamshells or hard plastic packaging around muffins, cookies, veggies/sandwiches/fruit trays (clamshells cannot be recycled)
    • Flower bouquets wrapped in plastic
  4. From each master list of plastic items, narrow it down to your top 1-3 for each program or event. Choose those plastic items that contribute the most to the waste stream or are the easiest to change. This is your starting place!
  5. Check our Best Practices Guide to Waste Reduction for ideas of how to implement changes.
  6. Keep track of your changes and successes. Communicate them to your members and to our Sustainability Committee!

Remember: we’re here to help! If you get stuck or need ideas, please reach out to us by emailing!

CONTEST: This contest is for PTAs! Email us at with a story of your PTA’s experience (e.g. what you learned, what you are going to start working on, what you found most challenging, how you’re working to overcome those challenges), along with a photo or document with your process. You’ll be recognized in an upcoming newsletter and your principal will be entered in a raffle to win a Sustainability Care Package! Emails must be received by Friday, March 26, 2021 to qualify.