What's S.U.P.? (Single-Use Plastics): Youth and Community Creating Change

Students on beach on Alaska.

Led by the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, schools and businesses across the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska initiated zero waste and green initiatives, coupled with marine debris education. Schools measured waste generated and identified solutions, while also executing local cleanups to measure and understand debris and its impacts.

Type of Project: Marine Debris Prevention Grant

Region: Alaska

Project Dates: August 2018 - December 2019

Who is involved?
With the support of a NOAA Marine Debris Program Prevention grant, the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies (CACS) expanded on their zero-waste program in schools and businesses across the Kenai Peninsula, including Homer, Seward, and other communities, integrated new schools and shared new information.

What is the project and why is it important?
Many businesses and schools in Alaska use a large amount of single-use plastics, from lunch trays and plastic utensils, to plastic bags and straws. This increases stress on landfills, while also creating the potential for the introduction of new marine debris if there is not proper waste disposal infrastructure available.

Experienced teachers and classes assisted new teachers in implementing zero-waste campaigns in their classrooms and on their campuses, measuring the amount and type of waste they generated, and identified opportunities to make changes and reduce waste. As with previous years, students also had the opportunity to participate in local cleanups at small communities on Kachemak Bay, with further remote cleanups at Gore Point and on Augustine Island.

CACS also worked with the business community to enroll additional companies in the Green Star program - a certification program that guides businesses in pollution prevention and integrating sustainability in business process. CACS conducted community presentations on environmental issues, and then worked with businesses to provide guidance on Green Star implementation options and opportunities, including waste audits and zero-waste initiatives.