Our children’s plastic lives seen through lunches

Our children's plastic lives seen through lunches - CNN

( CNN) If infants anywhere should care about plastic in our oceans, it’s those in the Maldives, a country that is 99% sea and 1% ground. From the tourism that generates 37% of all jobs on this idyllic chain of coral islands to the quality of the tuna eat there for three meals a day, their future hinges on clean seas.

But there’s a problem. Until this year, most Maldivian infants had not watched a coral reef, could not swim( most still can’t ), and often held a deep-rooted panic of the big blue. Ghost nets miring turtles, plastic bags defiling corals, and straws in the guts of fish existed in a different world.

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In 2018, that is changing.

A government project called Faru Koe, intending “Child of the Reef, ” aims to take all 81,000 students in the Maldives to a reef this year, and is pushing schools to eliminate single-use plastics.

“We’re an importing economy and everything comes wrap in plastic, ” tells Fathmath Hulwa Khaleellwa, program officer for the project. “So it’s a big battle, but we’re starting where we think we’ll stimulate the most change: with schools. Proving kids what it is we want them to protect.”

For World Oceans Day( June 8), all 212 schools in the Maldives have joined CNN’s #zeroplasticlunch campaign, which has asked students to strip single-use plastics from their lunch.

But how unique is the Maldives’ student awareness of plastic pollution? We visited schools from Venezuela to Tokyo to find out.

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Our children's plastic lives seen through lunches - CNN

At High School West, the lunch alternatives are healthy — perhaps astonishingly so for a nation plagued by obesity. There’s a salad bar, and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. But for the environmental issues it’s not so healthy.