Drop it Youth is a campaign that was inspired by a young student advocating for the disuse of single-use plastic bottles of water at her school in Abu Dhabi. The aim of this initiative, which has now expanded worldwide (and also now supported by the WWF), is to unite our world’s youth, to raise awareness about the effects of single-use plastic pollution within their communities and get people to take small, daily steps to ensure a healthy future for our planet. From the plastic soda bottles, to the straws that come with your take out, to the plastic packaging of your food, here are some facts you should know before you pick up your next piece of single-use plastic:
This is the reality of what one single decision to buy a bottle of apple juice at the caf or using a single-use plastic spoon can contribute to:
Single-use plastic is not only a danger to marine ecosystems; once the plastic becomes integrated into the food chain, it often ends up in the food we eat ourselves! Plastic production is also a key contributor to climate change, of which effects will only get worse as the years go by. The problems that our plastic consumption impose on the health of our planet are numerous – yet there are still so many people oblivious to this, who don’t even think of (or try) saying “no, I don’t actually need a plastic straw to drink my McDonald’s drink that’ll only be used for 10 minutes and then thrown away in the trash.”
This is why it is so important that these issues concerning plastic pollution be discussed, especially within our huge, dynamic school community. Each one of us has a voice that can be used to spread the word and amplify this effect of raising awareness (e.g. using social media; posting, talking about it). If we don’t talk about it, we’ll never know that we can refuse an item by saying one word in order to change this norm of excessive plastic consumption. Just picture this: 69 million people go to McDonald’s every day – if all those people order a drink, that’s 69 million plastic straws in the trash daily. Of course, straws are convenient to use if you’re not sitting at a table eating, but if you are, can you really not just drink your beverage normally from the cup? All it takes is a bit of knowledge and some courage to speak up and say no, I don’t need that.
We have such significant power to make change happen but we often don’t even think of using it. Even telling one person about the consequences of using a single plastic has the potential to ignite a chain reaction. Moreover, we all have a shared responsibility, a duty to provide and sustain a healthy, safe and clean planet for future generations. It is up to us to drive the change that will ensure this.
Yes, single-use plastic has become a norm and that is why it is difficult to avoid it. Yes, it’s hard to find anything that doesn’t contain or come in plastic nowadays; even our school vending machines don’t have a single item that doesn’t contain single-use plastic. Yes, it may seem like we might not always have another choice. However, by taking conscious decisions, finding out about alternatives and implementing them by making minor alterations, we can choose to ‘have another choice’. Here are some small, everyday steps that can (legitimately) make a big difference:
- Shop at Carrefour (in Divonne); they provide compostable bags for buying fresh fruits and vegetables
- Buy glass-packaged products instead of plastic-packaged ones (e.g. yogurts, juices, milk etc…)
- Try and shop at farmers’ markets (e.g. Saturdays Grand rue in Nyon and Sundays in Divonne centre) – and bring your own reusable bags!
- Carry your own durable water bottle with you when you’re out
- If you know you’re going to a coffee shop (e.g. Starbucks), bring your own thermos flask and ask them to use it instead of a single-use cup
- Find out if there is a farm near you that sells fresh milk in glass bottles, milk from vending machines, or fresh fruit you can pick (e.g. Ferme Pré-de-Vers (Rolle)
Links to where you can buy some alternatives:
Ask yourself the following, next time you come across single-use plastic:
- Do I really need it?
- Can I live without it?
- Am I in a position to use an alternative? If so, why aren’t I?
- Can I say “no”?
An effort or change, no matter how big or small, will always be a step forward in the right direction. You might think, ‘even if I do it, others will still continue’ or ‘they’ll still keep on producing the plastic anyways so I might as well use it,’ but one small change is still a change, and you never know, your actions could get others around you thinking, and taking action, too. Take initiative and help propel the change. Become part of this movement and push yourself to make a difference; take the pledge at www.dropityouth.org and do something good for the world today, and everyday. As quoted by Barack Obama, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
I believe this campaign is a titanic task but it is so important that I thank you for trying as hard as possible.