Earlier this week, I was asked to write the weekly Soapbox article for the Nor’West News. Check it out below!
Young People and Plastic Pollution
In mid-July, I returned home from my third New Zealand Model United Nations conference. Over four days in Wellington, the heart of New Zealand’s political sphere, I was surrounded by a rich atmosphere of young people dedicated to fostering positive change in their communities. Much like many UN Youth Events, NZMUN 2018 was met with a host of change-makers, leaders and aspiring diplomats who, just like me, recognise the important role youth have in local, national and global decision-making. However, as an environmental advocate, I also recognise that Christchurch’s youth lack a range of equally accessible platforms to express their environmental views, especially around the growing issue of plastic pollution.
Identifying a space for growth in this area, in 2016 I founded P.S. Our Beaches, an organisation dedicated to raising awareness of the plastic pollution issue. This organisation has grown since then and now has exciting plans for a conference called EnviroPAST (Plastic And Sustainability Talks) set for 2019. From this project, I want youth not only to be aware of the plastic pollution issue but motivated to make real change. I hope that, through EnviroPAST, we can provide not just a conference that comes and goes, but a space for ALL youth to network with those passionate about the same issues they are.
As a young person, I believe that we are inheriting an Earth that is increasingly damaged and, as such, are in a better place to understand and proceed with decisions on how we can preserve the land and seas in a sustainable light. The Zero Carbon Bill, plastic-free movement, ECan Youth engagement schemes and the Burnside High School Environment Group’s amazing tree planting work are all examples of beacons of change for our local communities. However, these are schemes all youth, not just those perceived as leaders or future politicians, should be a part of. I believe that young people have a calling to break the stereotypes of a teenage culture and actively engage in issues like plastic pollution, be it by partaking in conversations, staying in campaign loops or minimising their individual plastic footprints. To do this, the facilitation of accessible events, platforms and conversations with a range of Christchurch youth is key. I believe that it is initiatives like these, led by youth, for youth, that give our city the best hope towards achieving a truly sustainable future.