Starting the Journey to Low-Waste Living

Written By: Helping Ninja Kate, Age 17, 11th Grade, California

The International Statistic of 2018 states that 90.5% of plastic waste has never been recycled. While some of this trash goes to the landfill, a surprising amount ends up in the ocean. This has devastating effects. 70% of the Earth’s oxygen comes from the sea and the sea life that lives there.

In addition, plastics do not biodegrade. They simply break down into smaller and smaller pieces, called microplastics. Small sea creatures consume these insidious microplastics and by doing so, the plastics make their way into the ocean food chain. Microplastics deteriorate an animal’s health and eventually cause death. To alleviate this harm on our oceans, individuals can reduce their waste. There are myriad ways to cut down on waste in almost all aspects of our lives.

Packing Meals

Have no fear, it’s definitely possible to pack meals without creating waste.

The first thing to do is to pack your food in a reusable container such as a thermos or metal box. After you’ve done that, fill up a reusable water bottle with whatever drink you plan to have. Next, make sure to pack the reusable utensils that you will need. Now you are good to go, enjoy!

Personal Hygiene Products

Most personal hygiene products contain some sort of plastic. Soaps, shampoos, and conditioners are packaged in plastic containers. Dental floss not only contains plastic but is also packaged in it. Toothbrushes are made of plastic and nylon. These products can be easily swapped for more eco-friendly products. For example, use bars of soap to wash your hands. These are usually wrapped in paper or even better, not packaged at all! Bars of soap can also be used for body wash and believe it or not, shampoo and conditioner. In addition, bamboo toothbrushes work just as well as their plastic counterparts. Lastly, silk floss packaged in glass containers is available in some stores and online. 


Shopping greatly contributes to pollution. Many people enter stores empty-handed and leave with plastic bags filled with unnecessary, packaged items. However, that can change with a few simple steps. First, ask yourself if you really need what you want to buy. If you do, then try to find what you are looking for second-hand or sustainably-made. Second, come to the store with a reusable bag so that no paper or plastic will be needed to carry home your purchase. When shopping for food, choose whole foods without packaging. If you bring your reusable bag, there is no need to put fruits or vegetables in the plastic bags that many grocery stores offer. Also, many stores have bulk shopping or refill sections. Here, you can put unpackaged nuts, beans, tea, flour, etc. into your own container or bag!

Eating Out

Eating out, especially at fast-food restaurants, can produce lots of waste. Nevertheless, you can avoid this waste by coming prepared. It’s important to carry all the essentials so that you can refuse single-use plastics and still enjoy your meal. For instance, if you are craving a smoothie or tea with boba, bring a stainless steel boba straw and a reusable cup. Remember to convey to the person at the restaurant that you don’t want the plastic cup or straw when you order. 

I hope that you have learned some useful tips from this article.

Keep reducing your waste and living that low-waste life!

You can follow Helping Ninja Kate on Instagram at @pollution_solution_

Kate’s Instagram Account started as a Girl Scout Award and is now used to advocate for the low waste living to reduce ocean pollution and to save the beautiful sea! 💙

Plastic Bag In Our Tree

Written by Leo Berry, Age 9, Helping Ninja, Creator/ Founder

Today we were looking outside our upstairs window and my mom said, “Leo, look outside!”

I said, “What is out there?”

She said,”Look, what is wrong with that picture?”

I looked again.

At first I thought that it was a white bird then I looked closer and it really was a plastic bag!

My mom and I realized there was plastic bag in the top of our tree stuck on a branch.

I was really worried about the birds.

It is too high for us to reach with a ladder. We are not sure how we will get it down.

This is really not good.

I wonder how many birds die from plastic. I decided to google it and learn.

How many much birds die from plastic bags? Sea birds that die is 1,000,000 million.

Marine animals that die from plastic is one hundred million a year.

This makes me feel sad.

Animals on land can die too from plastic. I can’t find a statistic but I can bet its a lot.

I now want to know how what happens to birds if they get caught in a plastic bag. So, I look up if land birds can get hurt from plastic.

And, yes they can.

It’s really sad

I learned that birds can’t fly if they are entangled in plastic. The plastic bag could get wrapped around the birds wings and keep them from flying. If they are unable to fly they die of starvation. Or they may use the plastic for nesting materials and hurt there young.

This made me ask the question, ‘What happens to animals if they eat plastic bags?”

I found this on a website about plastic pollution and wildlife:

Plastic bags, once ingested, cannot be digested or passed by an animal so it stays in the gut. Plastic in an animal’s gut can prevent food digestion and can lead to a very slow and painful death.

As plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to break down.

And, once an animal dies and decays after ingesting plastic, the plastic is then freed back into the environment to carry on killing other wildlife.

This is not good.

Its dark now (and snowing) and the plastic bag is still there.

My mom said we are going to figure out how to get the plastic bag down from the tree.

Kids Need More Recess

Written By Leo Berry, Helping Ninja Founder/Creator, Age 9

I think kids should go outside more and I think we kids, need to have a longer recess.

Five to ten minutes outside is not enough for kids our age. A school day is eight hours long, kids need more recess.

Kids need to be outside more. Because it’s good for their health and social skills. I like playing tag and I get to talk to my friends at recess.

At my school we only get that , five to ten minutes. The thrid grade classes, we’re supposed to go outside at 12:00 and recess ends at 12:10, but it sometimes ends at five minutes early because the recess teacher wil l say that we have lunch at 12:25. And cuts our time outside, because we have to go inside to get ready for lunch.

But, after recess and before lunch, we read a book or an e-book or talk with a classmate for up ten minutes. (Or with our heads down on our desk because someone acted out and got the whole class in trouble.)  I think we should use this time to spend more time outside. 

On average, American children spend four to seven minutes a day in outdoor play and spend seven or more hours in front of a screen.

A recent study by the Seattle Children’s Research Institute says on average, children aged 10 to 16 spend only 12.6 minutes a day on outdoor activity and spend 10.4 hours of either indoors in school or watching tv or playing video games.

The study says on average, children aged 10 to 16 spend only 12.6 minutes a day on outdoor activity and spend 10.4 hours of watching tv or playing video games.

When I read this, I flipped and thought, “why are they on so long?”

I think that is too long. And definitely not enough time outside.

Kids should have longer recess because it improves physical activity and social skills. Being outside helps kids to exert more energy. This is sometimes a problem our class. Kids sometimes roll around on the floor or talk too loud because they have more energy and they don’t have a way to get it out. And, they get in trouble.

Doctors say that being in nature is good for kids health.

And that just being outside will help our mind and body get strong.

I think that schools need to think about how they can add more recess time into their school day. And if the school curriculum rules say that they cannot add more reccess, they may need to think about it and maybe rethink the rules. And, teachers maybe they could try to mix outside and our work. Like incoroprate going outside into our daily lessons. Some studies say being outside improves chidren’s creativity and foucs.

I have a freind who is on focus medicine. Some studies and doctors say that it improves this too. That being outside helps you focus better when go inside. There was a big article in the New Yorks Times about how nature helps kids mental health. Maybe it would help my friend if we had more recess and help other kids too.

Another reason  kids should go outside more as it helps kids focus and concentrate on class work and also improves the five senses. And being outside also helps your body’s defenses from getting sick – going outside improves your immune system.  It also helps the development your brain. It helps with being more friendly and talking – helps your socializing skills .

And, here’s the best part about it – being outside, it’s also proven, that it makes kids happier.

Leo, Central Park, New York City, New York
Helping Ninjas Photo Copyright December 2018

Helping Ninjas Rock Climbing at Central Park, New York City, New York
Helping Ninjas Photo Copyright December 2018