Energy Diet students to talk plastic waste

If your kids have taken part in the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge, they’ve likely lectured you about turning off lights and taps that aren’t in use. This year, be prepared for lessons on plastic waste.

Now in its eight year, the national energy literacy program, presented by Canadian Geographic Education and Shell Canada, invites students in kindergarten through Grade 12 to take part in a fun and engaging competition to help reduce their carbon footprint and become stewards of the environment.

New this year is a take-home challenge to get students talking about plastic waste with their families. Jill Heinerth, one of the world’s top marine explorers and a Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s Explorer-in-Residence, is a big fan of the Challenge.

“I’ve dived in most of the Great Lakes and Canada’s oceans and seen the impact of plastic pollution,” she says. “I encourage students and teachers to sign up for the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge. Just a few weekly actions to reduce waste and energy consumption make a difference in the world we share.”

Sixteen challenges teach youth about energy literacy, including how to make a difference by practising the four Rs: refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle. The program also provides teachers with resources and incentives to keep students engaged, all while linking back to the curriculum.

“We are a part of our own ecosystem and the beauty of the Challenge is the knowledge it brings,” says Nancy Gillis, an award-winning Toronto teacher with a passion for environmental literacy. “By learning how to reduce, reuse, recycle and even refuse, we are more informed about the small acts each of us can do that together make a big difference in helping our planet.”

Over a three-month period last year, participating classrooms saved more than 750 kilograms of trash from landfills, conserved more than 230,000 litres of water when they took on the Water Works Challenge and went more than 4,500 hours without electricity when they completed the One Hour, No Power challenge.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, our country produces more garbage per capita than any other country on earth. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, when it comes to fresh water use per person, Canada sits in second place among some of the world’s top industrialized nations, despite the relatively small size of our population.

More than 90 prizes worth up to $40,000 are up for grabs in this year’s Challenge. Registration closes on Jan. 27. Visit to learn more.

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