13-year-old Cambria Bartlett contacted me last year to do a phone interview about living plastic-free. She and a group of other homeschoolers, calling themselves Heirs to Our Oceans, were creating a video about caring for our oceans, and Cambria’s personal focus was on plastic.
Since then, I’ve met Cambria in person and learned what exceptional kids she and her friends are: committed, passionate, and dedicated to preserving the planet for future generations. I asked her to write a guest post to describe what they are doing and how you can help. Please read and enjoy!
Beth Terry is such an inspiration! In being aware of the changes she made to better our planet, I have come to care too and have made changes in my own behavior. Seeing Beth live her life with only one bag of plastic waste in a year made me realize that making change is possible. She is such a great role model! Beth’s blog and book have helped me so much in the last year. I have found all the resources and stores she recommends on her website extremely useful. I also appreciate her commitment to finding replacements and solutions.
I discovered Beth’s website when I first started researching plastic pollution last summer. At this point, I have researched ocean plastic pollution deeply and consistently for almost a year and a half as a member of Heirs To Our Oceans. It is amazing how many people are coming up with solutions and instigating change, and we kids are joining the movement! I agree with Beth and many ocean conservationists: We need to stop plastic at its source.
Therefore, I felt it was important to evaluate how much my household was contributing to the amount of plastic waste being generated. I tracked my family’s plastic garbage and recycling for 17 weeks and learned a great deal. I had no clue how much plastic my family used! A weekly inventory of plastics is an eye-opening experience. Even though I felt like our family’s weekly plastic garbage generation was high, our family of three adults and two kids uses about the nation’s average for one person! Reading Beth’s blog and book have helped me so much in my journey of working to live my life more sustainably for the health of the oceans. And, for my health! Thank you, Beth!
I am also inspired to help the oceans through Heirs To Our Oceans. Heirs To Our Oceans is a non-profit dedicated to inspiring awareness, responsibility, and action amongst youth worldwide to protect the waters of our blue planet for us, our kids, and our grandkids. We are a rising tide of environmental youth leaders. We study the science behind ocean problems and research solutions. We talk to scientists, environmental leaders, and policymakers. Knowledge is so important to create change for our future.
We started our movement to create positive change for our oceans in May 2016, and we already have additional chapters in Southern California, Northern California, and the Republic of Palau which is an island nation in Micronesia.
Our chapter in Palau, lead by 16-year-old Miel Sequeria-Holm, is doing beach cleanups and working with both Houses of Congress to draft an effective bill to ban plastic bags. They also performed a plastic inventory in their cafeteria and found they used over 1,400 plastic utensils in only one week! Some of the Palauan Heirs presented their findings to the principal. The school was interested in making a change, and this year they are not purchasing any plastic utensils nor containers to be used in their cafeteria! That’s youth in action!
Three months ago I had the honor of going to Palau to meet the Palauan Heirs and other Micronesians. Heirs To Our Oceans hosted a Youth Empowerment and Human Impacts on Our Oceans Camp. We had 23 kids from six different islands in Micronesia attend, along with five US Heirs. At camp, we all shared about human impacts on our oceans, made five short films about what we learned, and on the last day of camp we presented to the community in Palau. The new Heirs from camp are out in the world taking action. In fact, two of them went to Malta to attend the Our Ocean Conference!
As part of Heirs To Our Oceans, one of my favorite experiences was traveling to Blue Vision Summit in Washington D.C. Our eight Heirs were the first middle school age youth to attend the Summit. We feel it is important for kids’ voices to be heard because we are the future of this planet. At the Summit, we spoke on two panels with scientists and our plastics fact sheet was part of the packet that was given to Members of Congress. We also spent a day on Capitol Hill talking to ten Congresspersons about bills to better improve the health of our oceans. We asked them to support bills to stop the shark fin trade, plastic pollution, and offshore drilling.
I have also actively cleaned up Tunitas Creek Beach, in Half Moon Bay, California, for over a year. At California Coastal Cleanup Day on September 16, 2017, Heirs To Our Oceans, TLC Locals, and other volunteers collected over 1,480 pounds of trash! We picked up 1,480 pounds in two hours on one morning and this is only a small fraction of the trash we have picked up over the last year. Heirs To Our Oceans has also started hosting beach and waterway cleanups.
Beyond the group cleanups, my family and I have cleaned up a bucket of trash every day for two weeks! We have a five-gallon bucket in the back of our car and wherever we are that day we pick up trash and fill the bucket. We have taken pictures of all the buckets in the places we were during those two weeks. You can see them on the Heirs To Our Oceans Facebook page. Going forward, we are committed to picking up litter every day, because all litter can end up in a waterway which flows to the ocean.
From Facebook, we are also challenging others to fill a bucket with trash. It is the Heirs Trash Bucket Challenge! If you are interested in participating, get a bucket (or a reusable bag) and collect litter from wherever you are that day. Next, take a picture of the bucket when it’s full, with the parking lot, stream, street, gutter, ocean, park, etc. in the background, then post it on Facebook. Tag us at #HeirsTrashBucketChallenge, so we can see your contribution to cleaner oceans. I hope you have fun with this Challenge and feel free to do more than one bucket!
As you can see, we take action for our oceans in so many important ways – by changing our lifestyles, by speaking out to spread our message and movement, by actively cleaning beaches, by sending letters to Senators, by having our young voices be heard. We kids need all the help we can get to save our oceans so that we can have a healthy generation. Each of us can make a difference.