Pioneering pupils from a school in Littlehampton have written to some of the country’s most important people urging them to take a stand against plastic pollution.
After learning about the impact plastic waste can have on the planet’s oceans in March, year-six students at River Beach Primary School chose who they wanted to write to about the issue.
Among those to receive letters were Theresa May, Prince William and Catherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Sir David Attenborough.
The Littlehampton Gazette also received some post from the pupils.
Abbey Harmour, 11, was among them. In a letter addressed to the Gazette’s Editor-in-Chief Gary Shipton, she asked the paper to publish ‘regular updates on the plastic problem’.
Her letter also said: “Everyone who is on this planet should care for this planet. And that’s not happening.”
Speaking to the Gazette about why she chose to write to the paper, Abbey said more people needed to be aware of the problem.
“Apparently in a couple of years, there will be more waste in the water than fishes, and many animals are being hurt,” she said. “It is really unfair for them.”
Another was Rosie Johnson. It was not her first time as an environmental campaigner –the ten-year-old had written to Mrs May about the amount of rubbish on Littlehampton Beach when she was in year four.
She felt it was important for young people to take an interest in the problems facing the environment: “Adults have been living for a long time and they know about it, but it’s children who are going to end up with all of it if we don’t do anything about it.”
In the classroom, the pupils were taught about different types of plastic pollution, such as microbeads – small balls of plastic used in body and face scrubs which wash into the sea and end up in the food chain.
Year-six teacher Lucinda Challis said the lessons were all about empowering the students to ‘see what difference they could make’ in the world. She said: “Young people have such a voice, and such good ideas. They are the future generation.”
Letters were also sent to Southern Rail, asking for the bins on their trains to be made bigger, and supermarkets like Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
Among those to write back was Dominic Paul, chief executive of Costa Coffee.
He said his company was introducing paper straws in all stores this year, while looking at changing the material of their plastic lids.
Costa already uses wooden stirrers instead of plastic spoons.
He said: “I was very impressed to read that you are personally going to try to make a difference and think that’s brilliant. I hope that if we are all better at being environmentally friendly we can help to clean up the planet and protect the animals.”
Another responder was Nigel Lynn, chief executive of Arun District Council. Writing to Keeley, he said the council had just launched a ‘Lose the Litter’ campaign to support community groups that tidy the town, and had introduced plastic bottle recycling bins on Littlehampton seafront.
“It is great to hear about what you have been learning about in school and your passion for Littlehampton and the local environment,” he said.
Abbey urged other children to join their campaign. “Anyone can change anything if they put their mind to it,” she said.