Linsey Wynton on how children are leading the way on the environment
Children from St Mary’s CofE Primary School in Walthamstow delivered messages to their families, local businesses and politicians before Christmas.
“We need to wake up!”
“Each year in Britain 40 million wheelie bins of food is thrown away.”
“350 million tonnes of plastic is produced each year – half for single use.”
These children are ‘Agents of Change’, part of a project aimed at highlighting what’s needed to protect our planet. They wrote to local shops and cafés asking them not to waste food, offering suggestions including making surplus fruit into smoothies, baking over-ripe bananas into cakes, freezing food to preserve it, composting and donating any surplus to homeless people and foodbanks.
The children also wrote to Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy asking her to help stop single-use plastic, saying: “Sea life is in hot water because of plastic.”
Each class chose their own topic; year two and year four classes even asked their headteacher Matthew O’Brien to provide compost bins in the school kitchen and paper recycling bins in every classroom.
Matthew said: “It was fantastic to see the children pursuing their own plans and taking some early steps to become active citizens, making a positive contribution to the society they live in.”
Other efforts included making Christmas baubles from recycled paper to raise funds for Christian Aid, helping child war refugees overseas; designing leaflets about healthy eating to be displayed in GP surgeries and dentists; and planting fruit and vegetables in public places.
Year two children even visited a foodbank, bringing food, gifts and letters they had written to families who are struggling. Teacher Rhiannon Williams said: “Children see things in black and white and they have a really strong sense of injustice.
“They want to do something about it – and act to change things for the better.”
Some pupils called for others to stop littering, save water, plant more trees, reduce food miles and scoot, cycle or walk instead of drive. One described climate change as a “gruesome chain reaction” that results in “the next generation being robbed of a healthy, joyful and liveable future.”
A year one pupil wrote: “Stop cutting down trees, or animals will not have a home in the rainforest.”
Another pupil said: “There is no second planet for us to live on. We have the power to change.”