In celebration of publication day, we thought we would catch up with Amy Meek and ask her a few questions:
1. What inspired you to start ‘Kids Against Plastic’?
Ella and I were inspired to start Kids Against Plastic back in 2016, after studying the UN’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development. It was through these that we discovered plastic pollution, and the devastating impact our plastic habits are having on the environment. At the time, Blue Planet II had not been released, and we were shocked by the little coverage and widespread public knowledge there was regarding plastic pollution. It especially hit us that this was an issue that our generation were set to inherit and have to clean up if no urgent action was taken! So, we decided we needed to do our bit to make a difference on the issue – so we did, and founded Kids Against Plastic.
2. What is the main aim that you hope your campaign will achieve?
One of our key goals with our campaigning is to get more young people to be activists, and take action for topics they’re passionate about. We’ve already got an amazingly inspiring group of kids working on Kids Against Plastic around the UK, but we certainly want to continue to grow this number and get more young people involved.
We’d also love to get more schools signed up to our Plastic Clever initiative, a positive award scheme that encourages a more discerning use of single-use plastic bags, straws, bottles and cups and lids. The scheme applies to cafes, businesses, all areas of public sector where there is a use of plastic, but we think it is particularly important that schools lead the way in reducing plastic and encourage their staff and pupils to do the same.
3. What would you say has been your biggest achievement so far?
It’s really exciting for us that we now have over 1000 schools around the UK signed up to become Plastic Clever – Plastic Clever schools has been a real focus for us in the last couple of years, so to have that many schools signed up in the initiative and keen to do their bit to reduce their plastic usage is something that we’re really proud of.
We’ve also had some incredible opportunities as part of the charity that are certainly achievements for us personally, such as having the opportunity to speak in the Human Rights chamber at the UN Geneva last December, on World Human Rights Day. That is a moment that will stick with us for a long time!
4. What big projects have you got planned for the future?
We’re planning to focus more on the youth engagement side of Kids Against Plastic more in the future, and help more young people become activists for a cause they’re passionate about. This is something that’s so important to us, as we’ve seen first-hand the positive impact we can have as young people!
5. What advice would you give to readers your age who want to become environmental activists or start a campaign of their own?
Start small, but do something. Even if it’s something as simple as refusing a plastic straw when you go out for a drink; every small change adds up to make a huge difference. Then, focus on spreading the word – let others know about what you’re passionate about, and what they and do too. Don’t be put off by a need to take a huge step, like starting your own campaign straight away; take small steps and build up your confidence and awareness. Campaigning is far from easy, but always remember have belief in what you can achieve if you set your mind to it, as we young people can have very powerful voice that cannot be underestimated.
6. Is there anything we can do from home to help combat plastic pollution in the current Covid 19 lockdown period?
There are so many ways to use the lockdown time to reduce your plastic usage! We’d definitely recommend trying more home-baking, so that you don’t have to buy items like bread or cookies wrapped in plastic. It’s also a fun time-filler!
Also, if you’re interested in getting more involved in activism, now is the perfect opportunity to start. Use some of this extra time we have on our hands to do some planning for what you’ll do once we’re out of lockdown, so that you can get off to a flying start when you’re not confined to your house!
7. What three things should we be doing at home to be ‘Plastic Clever’?
1 – make sure you get some reusable items to use instead of single-use plastic. Items like a reusable water bottle and cup are definitely essentials, as they’re super easy to use out and about instead of plastic ones. Plus, using reusables can actually save you money – for example, bottled water is often more expensive per litre than petrol!
2 – avoid cling film! Due to how thin it is, and how it is contaminated by food, cling film can’t be recycled. So, try and avoid it where possible by getting silicon covers for pots instead, or use reusable Tupperware pots instead.
3 – buy bar toiletries. Avoiding soap or shampoo and conditioner packaged in plastic bottles is a simple way of reducing your use of a lot of unnecessary plastic.
8. How would you describe your book ‘Be Plastic Clever’?
‘Be Plastic Clever’ embodies all of what Kids Against Plastic is about – giving young people a greater understanding of plastic pollution and the impact it’s having on the planet, and inspiring them to take action for what they believe in. The first part of the book is dedicated to the issues with plastic, and breaking down some of the key red-herrings to do with areas of plastic like bioplastics and recycling, along with tips to be more Plastic Clever at home and out and about. Then, the second part of the book focusses on showing young people how they can be activists themselves, with advice that we’ve picked up over the years on starting a campaign.