Sorry for the oversight but I had forgotten to blog about these very important events on April 25th and 26th. Myself, Guy Russell (Jurassic Paddle Sports and Sidmouth Lifeboat) and Jo Earlem (Author, Tuamor the Turtle) went in on the invitation of the College to talk to the entire school, split into two halves of Years 7-12, over two consecutive mornings.
What had prompted this was the mess around the College, between the Primary School to the College, and around the Youth Centre. I had asked the College to talk to their children but they called my bluff and asked me in, much to my terror. So we manned up, and with the other two by my side I found the strength from somewhere to get started – and guess what, actually enjoyed it.
I started off by talking about the Warriors, and what had prompted the decision to start us, and what we had achieved so far. Then Guy spoken beautifully about his experiences around the world and what the sea means to him. Also he told the audience about how him and his team clean the beach each morning, and he had taken along the #2minutebeachclean board and talked them through that, encouraging them to come along and pick up a few bits and put it in the bin near him. There were some familiar faces to Guy in the audience and so it was great to see the connection between generations, and hopefully the link to the sea and our coastal community, and taking responsibility.
Jo then spoke about what inspired her to write Tuamor, and we left a copy of the book with the Co-Principal, Martyn Dudley, so he could pass it round to the tutor groups and all the school could have a look at it. We discussed the idea that potentially the older children could go to primary schools to read it to younger children.
I showed them a short video of a Ted Talk which talks about the life of 3 plastic bottles – one goes into landfill, one drifts down a river (and a 3rd which is recycled but I cut that bit out as we want to REFUSE and REDUCE before we encourage RECYCLE!). It illustrates how plastics are made and what the dangers are.
I then talked again, about how as teenagers they may feel powerless, that they can’t change the world. With the illustration that a conservative estimate of 1 plastic bottle per person over 12 in the UK (ie who has buying decision authority!) means there would 55million bottles sold per week – per year in the UK alone that would be 2.86 BILLION bottles. When we are told that we only recycle about 50% (and don’t get me started on what actually counts as ‘recycled’) then that is still 1.43 BILLION bottles unaccounted for. So I encouraged them to think about the money spent marketing plastic drinks bottles etc to their age group, and how the industry treated them. Their £1 a day to spend on drinks can make a massive difference to the industry, and it can make them realise that they DO have power, they DO have a voice, and the only way to get industry to change is to either a) buy a tin of drink or b) don’t buy the drink, take a refill cup to school, save money for something much more interesting!
We also asked them to really think about their environment. They might feel weird picking up ‘someone else’s rubbish’ to start with, but if they start to think about it it is their world, their environment, and if they pick it up they will plant seeds with others and it will become normal. Peer pressure at their age is much more important than oldies like us telling them what to do, so I asked them in their own language to tell someone off for being an xxxx, and to use the bins!
Since doing the assembly we have heard back from Mr Dudley, and he said that several children reported back to him after lunch that the school canteen sells plastic bottles – that is being rectified! He has also asked his business manager to discuss plastic with the catering company to reduce their impact. Thirdly they are going to organise a litter pick around the school grounds, as they know there are issues with plastic in the grounds which has been covered over by leaves etc. This is all really encouraging and makes it so worthwhile.