School children from a London borough are taking their campaign to stop plastic pollution to the UK government. Over 1500 students living in the London Borough of Richmond have penned letters calling on Number 10 to take forward more ambitious environmental policies. Inspired by Sir David Attenborough, who lives in the area, the letters will be taken to Downing Street next Wednesday, 8 May, on the day the renowned naturalist will celebrate his 93rd birthday.

Brothers Lucas (14) and William (13) Owen-Holt, students of Orleans Park School in Twickenham, are behind the initiative, backed by 7 and 16 year olds from 17 primary and secondary schools.

“We are begging the government to bring in very tough, immediate laws to stop plastic from killing the world that today’s children will be living in tomorrow,” said Lucas Owen-Holt.“It’s clear from every one of these letters that children can live without the so-called conveniences such as plastic bags, disposable plastic cutlery, plastic bottles, plastic packaging, plastic toys, and so much more.  When weighing up the convenience of plastic with the cruelty and damage it inflicts on our beautiful and irreplaceable natural world, we would rather do without.”

The children want:

A ban on all the following (but not exclusively): single-use plastic including plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic cutlery, plastic packaging and wrap. 

Compostable packaging to replace all plastic packaging in supermarkets, shops, cafes and takeaway restaurants.

Clear, uniform labelling on all packaging so people are crystal clear about what it is and how it should be disposed of.

Every school in the UK to teach children of all ages about the correct disposal of all materials and the importance of buying products that are compostable. 

Extracts from the letters:

‘A total of 1.5 million children around the world skip school to go out for regular strikes regarding climate change, the most famous one, Greta, who skipped school every Friday to protest. I am writing to you today to offer ideas which could partly solve the problem. First of all, prompt more people to, if possible, grow their own produce as this has no plastic packaging. We could also use no packaging on vegetables and fruits, and use recycled plastic or bio-plastic for meats. If you go back some time, you will see that people paid for glass bottles and got money back if they returned them.’ (Asya-Lea Rodrigues, Orleans Park).

‘I am here to write about plastic that is endangering animals. I am extremely livid because I have seen pictures of animals suffering in plastic. I love the shows you’re (Sir David is) presenting about sealife and plastic. I think it’s teaching people to recycle.’ (Amelie, Year 3,St Mary’s Hampton CE Primary School).

‘We are children from the George Tancred Centre and we are autistic. We care about the environment and we like animals…If we don’t stop the pollution there might be a mass extinction of species. The government could give a speech on live TV for everyone to watch so they know what they are doing. The government has charged an unnecessarily small amount to buy plastic bags and not everyone is paying attention to the charge, so they could make it bigger or ban plastic bags. The government needs to add more sea bins to the ocean as we want to stop plastic being thrown into the ocean carelessly.’ (The children at GTC).