Over 100 students and teachers from around the world gathered for the Algalita 2017 Plastic Ocean Pollution Solutions International Youth Summit Feb. 10-12 in Dana Point, California. The three-day summit activated youth leaders to launch and lead action-oriented solutions to reduce plastic pollution in their own communities.
Students, who won the opportunity to participate in the summit based on their innovative project submissions, received training in leadership, public speaking, community engagement, art, science, and film-making throughout the weekend.
Speakers included Danni Washington, an ocean activist and founder of The Big Blue and You; Dr. Wallace 'J' Nichols, a marine biologist and PPC founding advisor; Kristal Ambrose, founder of Bahamas Plastic Movement, Anna Cummins, co-founder of 5 Gyres, and Hannah Testa, a 14-year-old environmentalist and founder of Plastic Pollution Awareness Day in Georgia, USA.
Students’ project ideas covered many areas of plastic pollution from single-use plastic bags to straws, utensils, water bottles, and more. Projects included: student Abeer from India, who advocates for using reusable bags made of jute instead of plastic; high-schoolers from Santa Fe Springs, California, who are working with the school district’s director of food and services on reducing plastic waste at their school; kids from the Bahamas, who demonstrated how to make reusable bags; kids from Los Angeles and Missouri who created art projects with plastic; and students from Cambodia, who are raising awareness in their schools about plastic pollution suffocating freshwater dolphins, of which only about 100 remain.
A group from Lebanon has started awareness programs and recycling efforts at their elementary schools: “Our Earth has the right to live without pollution,” said Nadine in her presentation, and 16-year-old Ruby from Santa Cruz, California, has started an organization called Trashtastic to help kids make art out of discarded plastic and to “inspire kids to be environmentalists.”
Jenna from Huntington Beach, California, came to the summit as a peer advisor, and left with an idea to change the way people think about plastic straws with a campaign called #SteelMyStraw.
In her speech, 14-year-old Hannah Testa, a PPC Youth Ambassador, talked about teaming up with organizations to take action against plastic pollution. “Don’t wait for everything to be perfect,” she said. “Stay motivated! If we all use our collective voice, we will change the world!”
At the conclusion of the summit, attendees came up with a mission statement: "We are activist ocean-earth protector plastic-free warriors working toward a world free of plastic pollution... We are the unstoppable change. We are heirs to the ocean. We are the solution to plastic pollution."
Watch students talk about their projects in the videos below.