Reusable bottles are great—but here’s how kids can make a major eco-impact at school.

These big ideas will help children make planet-protecting changes in the classroom. (Don’t worry—we have small tips, too!)

This fall, 11-year-old Maddie Cameron is on a mission. The seventh grader is going to help her schoolmates curb a litter problem on their playground.

“A lot of kids take their snacks out at recess, but there aren’t any garbage cans out there,” Maddie says. Kids are supposed to take this trash home, she explains, but some of it ends up on the ground. So she’s working with her parents, teachers, and classmates to put recycling and trash bins on the playground.

Many kids are already doing their part to protect the planet through personal choices, like bringing a reusable water bottle to school, skipping plastic straws, and putting paper scraps into the recycling bin. But scientists agree that bigger, more structural changes are needed to combat environmental crises like climate change and consumption that, according to a research article published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is sending more than 90 percent of plastics into the trash.

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