You don’t need to look far to find inspiring examples of young people leading environmental and social action to secure a better future – and succeeding where adults are failing to make headway.
Plastic waste is a hot topic.
This month is Plastic Free July, a global event created to inspire people around the world to reduce single-use plastic waste. With an estimated 326 million participants, it's the perfect time to realise why learning about plastic belongs in every school. More importantly, it can help our children and schools post-pandemic, by supporting the Recovery Curriculum.
In the wake of the global pandemic, schools are being encouraged to find space for a new curriculum that builds on the interests of their learners. Centred on a popular think piece by Professor Barry Carpenter (Mental Health in Education, Oxford Brookes University) the Recovery Curriculum stresses the need for an educational approach that focuses on wellbeing, ahead of the need to catch up academically. The framework is intended to reignite a love for learning and to allow all children to succeed through the 5 Levers of Recovery: relationships, community, transparent curriculum, metacognition, and space.
The SEEd Youth Listening Project (2019) revealed plastic and waste as one of the top environmental concerns for young people when thinking about their futures. With a world that's already creating 220 million tons of plastic waste each year, and ocean plastic levels set to quadruple by the time they’re middle-aged, young people have the right to be concerned.
The good news is that we have solutions available today that can address 80% of the plastic flowing into our ocean. Now is the time to act. Common Seas are working hard to tackle the plastic pollution crisis, but we know that real, lasting change takes commitment. As some of the most passionate and effective planet-protectors, we need young people on our team. That’s why we created Ocean Plastics Academy (OPA), a movement to empower the next generation to create a plastic waste-free future.
Plastic pollution is a powerful topic – it covers a multitude of environmental and social issues, spanning from resource consumption and circular design to marine biodiversity, human health and global climate change. Everyone, everywhere, of any age, can see how their behaviours can contribute to the problem and be part of the solution.
When we talk to young people about a future without plastic waste, they don’t just imagine cleaner streets and beaches, they imagine a more active, more connected community. They describe lush, green spaces in which to play and learn whilst simultaneously dreaming up solutions to climate change; OPA brings the topic of ocean plastics to life and enables young people to do something about it.
OPA’s hands-on activities provide an inclusive approach to learning that supports each lever of the recovery curriculum:
Take a look at OPA resources here.
Developed with a broad coalition of educators, scientists and industry experts, Ocean Plastics Academy combines a suite of curriculum-aligned resources with practical activities for students aged 5-16 years. You can access them for free on the Ocean Plastics Academy platform.
Tell us how you’ll be using them to inspire a love for learning and to help create a plastic waste-free future. Tag us on Instagram and Twitter @CommonSeas. For more information or support relating to OPA email [email protected].
We took 10 young people in a time machine, launched them into the future and asked them to imagine a future free from plastic waste - take a look at what they discovered in the video below: