By Georgina Stevens, Georgina is a sustainability consultant and author of the children’s book series, Be The Change Books.
Since becoming a parent, I have read a lot of children’s books. And one thing that really struck me was the lack of engagement with young children on solutions to some of the environmental issues we are facing. And also the lack of honesty about the situation our environment is in. Children are not like us. They are not stuck in their routines, everything is new and exciting and they want to learn and to make things better (sometimes….)
The first book in the series, Finn the Fortunate Tiger Shark and his Fantastic Friends, is about ocean plastic. I have seen first hand what our plastic is doing to the marine environment, and there is so much we can all do about it.
Did you know?
- 8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped into our oceans every year
- By 2050 there will be more plastic than fish by weight
- Once in the ocean, plastic absorbs toxins and breaks down into tiny pieces, which get into our own food chain
- One-third of marine litter is drinks bottles
- Only 20% of the 300 million tonnes a year of plastics produced is recycled
- 56% of dolphin and whale species and 90% of seabirds have ingested plastic
Some companies are making some of their packaging and products out of marine plastic, such as Adidas, Method, P&G. The Social Plastic Foundation pay people to gather marine plastic, and then sell it onto big companies to use.
However, we really need to prevent the plastic getting there in the first place! Greenpeace are doing a great job of pressurising big companies, such as Coca Cola (who produce 110 bn single use plastic bottles every year) to find another way and lobbying for policy change, with bottle return schemes for example.
The profits from this first book are being split between these two amazing organisations, the Social Plastic Foundation and Greenpeace. So please help us support them by buying a book – it could make a great Christmas present.
And it really is down to us all to change behaviours. The book has explicit advice within the story and an A-Z at the end, spelling out lots of ideas on how children can reduce marine pollution. You can find out more here.
But what can we all do to help reduce ocean plastic?
- Carry a reusable water bottle, coffee cup, shopping bag and cutlery with you instead of using single use plastics
- Ask for no straw with your drink
- Don’t flush cotton buds down the toilet and ensure you buy paper cotton buds.
- Make sure your facewash and toothpaste don’t contain microbeads
- Get involved – sign a petition to ban single use plastics or to encourage a company to set up a bottle return scheme
And if you’re a teacher, you can also:
- Get your students excited about they can do – see resources below
- Ask children to use reusable containers and cutlery for their pack lunches
- Stop laminating!
- Ban chewing gum – it is made of plastic and has been found in fish
- Don’t use balloons – they can harm animals and marine life– make paper chains instead!
- Arrange a beach clean day.
- Search the database on Global Dimension under Waste or search under ‘Plastic’
- Be the Change Books – Resources for 4-8 year olds.
- Royal Geographical Society – Plastic Pollution in the oceans (KS5)
- Plastic Pollution Coalition – Aimed at US Grades 4-6 (UK ages 9-12)
- The Plastic Pollution Toolkit – collection of tools and resources to empower individuals and communities to combat ocean plastic in their local area and globally
- Plastic Oceans – Foundation working to change the way we deal with plastic waste by challenging society’s perception that this indestructible substance can be treated as ‘disposable’. The website has lots of ideas for taking action and a film.
By Georgina Stevens, sustainability consultant and author of the children’s book series, Be The Change Books, which engages children on environmental issues at a young age through funny stories about charismatic creatures. The books are primarily aimed at 3-6 year olds.
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