Tell us how you became aware about the problem of plastic pollution
I can’t remember when or how I started noticing plastic pollution exactly, but it’s always been in the back of my mind since I was about 8. My family have always had an interest in environmental issues but leaning towards the conservation side of things, rather than the pollution. I’ve been more concerned about the pollution problem because it is something terrible that humans are completely responsible for. Recently I’ve become very aware of the amount of plastic water bottles the I lose while sailing. Every time we capsize the two bottles in our boat will fall out and float down the river while my skipper and I are too busy to notice. I started mentioning this to other people and it seemed like I was the only sailor who had noticed this issue and was concerned about it.
What did you decide to do for your school project and how did you do it?
A project had come up at school and I decided it was the perfect time to take some action on my new discovery. I decided to make a raft out of recycled plastic water bottles and sail it along part of the Swan River to raise awareness, especially to young people, about the plastic pollution in our river and oceans. I made the base of the raft out of 120 used plastic bottles that I had been given or collected. I used a piece of poly pipe as a mast and attached an old sail of mine to it. Sadly, the day I had chosen to sail was windless so I had to paddle the raft with a kayak paddle but I kept the sail up so I was visible. I launched from East Fremantle Yacht Club where I sail and I got about half way across the river before the mast fell over and I had to turn back. Now I am creating some posters with information about the plastic pollution problem and how people can help, and telling the story of what I did. With the help of the organisation Millennium Kids I will exhibit the posters and the boat at libraries around Perth.
What would you like other young people to know?
I think a lot of young people have no idea about the severity of the plastic pollution problem. Those that do know don’t know of any solution or alternative to the plastic products they use that are at a reasonable price. I think young people need to know what is out there that they can use. I also think they need to realise that it is ok to have these products, like keep cups, and that its ok to be the one saying “I don’t need a lid on my coffee”, or “I don’t need a bag” or “I don’t want a straw”. I would like young people to be able to say these things and not be written off as “hippies”.
Have you discovered any solutions/alternatives to the water bottle problem?
I’ve already started using a reusable water bottle that I tie to the boat when I’m sailing and I take my own water bottle with me a lot of the time when I go out. I haven’t used a single use plastic bottle since I started the project.