‘Just knowing about climate issues is not enough’

As part of our 1,000 Business Climate Pledges campaign we asked a group of primary and secondary pupils from Atlantic Academy on Portland for their views on the environment ahead of the climate change conference, being held in Glasgow later this year.

Attending a virtual round table event was a first for the children and it gave them an opportunity to give their perspective on how the climate crisis is impacting their lives.

We asked Finley Short from year 11 what he felt was the biggest challenge for his generation.

He told us [Dorset Echo], “One of my biggest concerns is how fast fashion has such a big impact on environment. We know it is an issue but we need to take more action to help resolve the problem. There hasn’t been enough conversation around what we can do to make real change.”

It is really about making conscious choices about what you buy. ”When I buy clothing, I try and think about buying better quality items that will last rather than buying clothing that is too disposable.” We all need to be sensible consumers.

We also asked the children what small changes they had made to help the environment and Izzy Rowland-Pilgrim said: “I turn off my lights more often at home and I look at packets to see if they have recycling symbols. I also use rainwater to water my orchids rather than tap water. I learnt that from the Bournemouth Orchid Society and I think that will help make a big difference to the environment. I like to think I am doing my bit.”

Because of its close proximity to the coastline, the pupils of Atlantic Academy get to see first-hand what happens when rubbish ends up in the sea.

Matilda Busby-Wilcocks told us that she gets a close up view of what is happening at the beach: “There is so much rubbish which is killing marine life. I see bottles, food wrappers, packaging and cans. It really makes me think about what can be recycled. I know that this is important and that doing small things can make a difference. If everyone did a little bit more the collective effect would be really powerful.”

Matilda told us that she has plans to attend more beach cleans in the future.

We were keen to hear about how the other pupils could help with pollution on our coastlines. Alex Calvert from the Primary phase told us that he would like to go litter picking at the seaside more often having seen first hand the effect of rubbish being left behind. “When we are paddle boarding or swimming we can do our bit and pick up rubbish and things that are harmful to marine life. We can also make sure that they get recycled correctly. I want people to clean up after themselves and don’t leave their rubbish on the beaches.”

Abi Price added, “I am noticing that the weather is warming up and I don’t want to leave change too late. I cycle as much as I can and I try and get my friends to join me. I want to be independent so cycling is great and I can do my bit for the climate.”

The children were also keen to tell us that there are lots of ways to make positive change.

Ellie Savage from Year 8 said: “the most important thing for me is recycling plastic. So much goes into the ocean and we don’t know how much we are putting in. Also, reducing paper is really important because we are destroying habitats including rainforests. Also, more of us walking to school, car sharing or taking a bus will help with pollution as there will be less cars on the road.”

Izzy was also keen to share her views around deforestation, she told us “Whole rain forests are being destroyed and wildlife is becoming endangered. I find it really upsetting as I don’t know what will happen if this carries on.”

One of the last points raised by Finlay was his concerns around a lack of action. He told us: “We know a lot about our environment. We know there are things that can be done and we have the knowledge. But now we need to take that knowledge and act on it. Knowing about the issues is simply not enough”.

There are still year 7 places available at Atlantic Academy. To apply, or for more information visit www.atlantic-aspirations.org/apply/apply-to-atlantic-academy/