YOUTH-LED INITIATIVES

Youth-driven community engagement and education initiatives that advocate for no plastic in our world is a powerful means to creating consumer change. 

TARGET USERS: Individuals, Businesses

KEY CONSIDERATIONS: Youth-led organizations prove effective in raising awareness of the dangers of plastics to our environment by offering local community engagement workshops, organizing beach clean-ups, promoting plastic-free products, lobbying with local and national governments, and speaking at public events and in schools.

    MORE INFORMATION: See the Bye Bye Plastic Bags organization at http://www.byebyeplasticbags.org/ and Kids Against Plastic at https://www.kidsagainstplastic.co.uk/do/plasticcleverschools/.


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    THE PROBLEM

    Right now, there are 150 million metric tons of plastic in our oceans—and we're releasing an additional 8 million metric tons each year. This shocking amount of plastic greatly impacts ocean wildlife. Sea turtles and other marine wildlife mistakenly eat plastic bags that they confuse with jellyfish. Sea birds, whales, dolphins, and other marine animals often turn up dead with stomachs full of plastic. Even land animals are now forced to live among plastic pollution.

    Single-use plastic bags are a major contributor to ocean pollution. Because the environmental costs of single-use plastic products like these are largely hidden from the consumer, their consumption continues to grow unabated. We cannot solve a problem that people simply are not aware of. 

     

    THE SOLUTION

    Youth-led organizations are key mobilzers in the fight against plastic. Bye Bye Plastic Bags, for example, envisions a world free of plastic where young generations are empowered to take action. BBPB was launched in 2013, in Bali, by founders and sisters, Melati and Isabel Wijsen when they were 10 and 12 years old. BBPB raises awareness and educates youth about the harmful impact of plastic on our environment, animals and health while also sharing how to be part of the solution. Having spoken to over 20,000 youth and created two educational booklets aimed for elementary schools in Indonesia, education has a huge place in the role of BBPB.

    Globally, the BBPB team has spoken to 50,000 students across 22+ countries in 9 different languages. They have become a well-known international movement of inspiration and youth empowerment. In 2016, BBPB went global and has
    since established 50 new BBPB groups in cities around the world.

     

    ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS

    Children are susceptible to peer pressure. When single-use plastic becomes socially unacceptable and unpopular, it will be purchased less and less of it will end-up in our oceans. Hosting plastic awareness conferences in youth communities and at schools is a way in which kids and parents alike can become informed. For more information, see https://www.greenschoolsalliance.org/program/campaigns/stop-plastics.

     

    CASE STUDY EXAMPLES

    Stow It-Don’t Throw It
    Welcome to the official website for the “Stow It-Don’t Throw It” Project – a youth-driven marine debris prevention and ocean conservation program dedicated to protecting marine environments and their inhabitants while educating others to do the same. The project works to engage youth in combating the dangers of improperly disposed of monofilament fishing line by assembling and distributing personal-sized fishing line recycling bins to anglers and boaters, while educating the public on sustainable fishing practices. See http://stowitdontthrowitproject.weebly.com/ for more information

    Students Take on Plastic
    Students Take on Plastic (S.T.O.P.) is an initiative born out of the Ban the Bag Conference at the Hewitt School (NY) in 2013 and their follow-up student training on how to talk to lawmakers to encourage them to pass legislation that bans or places a surcharge on single-use plastic bags. For more information, see: https://www.greenschoolsalliance.org/program/campaigns/stop-plastics.

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