AS of last Friday, students from Phnom Penh's Russey Keo High School can no longer ignore the issue of environmental damage caused by the use of plastic bags. A photo display erected by Phnom Penh resident Paul Gibbings, just down the road from the school, aims to educate young people about the effects of plastic bags on our surroundings.
"The street-sellers sell all the goods in small plastic bags. The problem is, kids don't hold on to them. They just drop the bags everywhere, and here on this street there's no waste bin at all," Gibbings said. "I hope through the exhibit they can see what we're doing to the world."
The photos, collected from various publications, illustrate the effects of plastic bags on flora and fauna, with one showing the digestive tract of a bird choked with pieces of plastic.
According to teacher Chheaiki Hem who helped to explain the photos' message to his students, "most of them reacted to the posters with surprise".
Many never knew that plastic is non-biodegradable and has such long-term effect on the environment, he said.
Interestingly enough, Chheaiki Hem said, some even misinterpreted the relationship between plastic consumption and economic development.
"They thought that since plastic bags make life easier, we should be proud that we have plastic bags to use today."
Gibbings now wants to integrate this information into the school's curriculum.
"We would like to talk to the headmaster about raising environmental awareness on campus," he said.