Tema, Ghana - In a determined effort to combat the escalating plastic pollution crisis in Ghana, St. John Bosco Basic School took the lead on Wednesday, May 24th, by organizing a plastic-free awareness march in the Tema Community 2 area. The event aimed to sensitize the local community about the urgent need to reduce the use of single-use plastics and minimize plastic pollution.

The march, led by students and teachers featured participants displaying placards with powerful captions such as "Reduce, reuse, and recycle," "Save the world, reduce plastics," "No plastics, no choked gutters," "Children against plastic waste," and "Love life. Say no to plastics." The catchy slogans and accompanying songs resonated throughout the community, capturing the attention of commuters and residents.

Photo: YRE Ghana, Seth Berempong Ansong// St. John Bosco students holding self-made placards  with slogans about Environmental protection.

The plastic-free awareness march coincided with the commencement of St. John Boscos’ Plastic-Free Week, an initiative organized as part of the Plastic-Free Schools Pilot. This educational program, aimed at preventing plastic pollution, is implemented by Center for Sustainable Development - CeST through the FEE Global Eco-Schools programme, and spearheaded by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MOE).  It is part of a global initiative under the auspices of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm (BRS) convention on “Marine Litter and MicroPlastics: Promoting the Environmentally Sound Management of Plastic Wastes and achieving the prevention and minimization of the generation of plastic waste”, by the Secretariat of the Basel, Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions (BSR Secretariat), MESTI, The Basel Convention Coordinating Centre for the African Region in Nigeria (BCCC Africa), and funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development (NORAD).

When asked about her expectations for the awareness march, Mrs. Margaret Ndwinini, the Headmistress of St. John Bosco Basic School, expressed her hope that the event would increase community awareness of the plastic pollution problem and highlight the dangers it poses to both human beings and animals on land and in water. She also emphasized the importance of personal waste management habits, urging individuals to refrain from improperly disposing of plastic waste. Mrs. Ndwinini stressed the significance of ongoing efforts to segregate plastic waste and continually educate the public on waste separation.

For Blessing Quaye, a Basic 6 student of St. John Bosco, she hopes that today's awareness march will trigger as much action from the Tema Community 1 residents, as the Plastic-Free School Pilot has done for her in the past months. She hopes that this will not be yet another ritual exercise that would be forgotten in few days with no action taken on the part of the community
Madam Maud Kumah, a member of the school's Eco-Committee, shared her optimism that the march would convey the students' strong stance on plastic pollution within the community. She believes it would inspire tangible behavioral changes among community residents regarding plastic consumption and waste management.

Photo: YRE Ghana, Seth Berempong Ansong// Students receiving healthy fruit snack

The plastic-free pilot program, which began in March and is set to conclude in June, was meticulously designed to sensitize students and empower them to become environmental ambassadors. They are encouraged to educate their peers and families on the importance of reducing plastic waste.

Mr. Michael Affordoffe, the country consultant overseeing the program's implementation on behalf of MESTI, expressed his hopes for the program's objectives and achievements to extend beyond its conclusion. He acknowledged the students' growing awareness of the impacts of plastic waste on the environment and commended their concerted efforts to eliminate plastics within their school premises. Mr. Affordoffe emphasized the crucial role of teachers as role models, urging them to continue raising awareness among students about the hazards of plastic waste and pollution. He also highlighted the responsibility of parents, as students spend significant time at home, to support their children's efforts by providing reusable bowls for eating and bottles for drinking water, thus reducing the reliance on plastics in schools and the wider environment. These collective endeavors will contribute to the scaling up of the fight against plastic pollution.

With St. John Bosco Basic School leading the change, the plastic-free awareness march serves as a powerful reminder that change starts at the grassroots level. Through education, community involvement, and sustained action. As such, the awareness march was also an important prelude to this year's World Environmental Day, on June 5th, with the theme  for 2023 being:  Solutions to Plastic Pollution under the campaign #BeatPlasticPollution since education and awareness are paramount preconditions to finding Solutions to Plastic Pollution.