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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Youth to be catalyst in fight against plastic pollution

A new programme by green living social enterprise Goumbook will allow young people to drive their own sustainability awareness campaign

Tatiana Antonelli Abella, founder of Goumbook, who launched the Drop It Youth scheme to encourage young people to raise awareness about single-use plastic pollution. Reem Mohammed / The National
Tatiana Antonelli Abella, founder of Goumbook, who launched the Drop It Youth scheme to encourage young people to raise awareness about single-use plastic pollution. Reem Mohammed / The National

Young people across the UAE will soon be able to use their voice to raise awareness about single-use plastic pollution.

The sustainability and green living social enterprise Goumbook launched countrywide awareness campaign Drop It Youth on Tuesday to encourage 11 to 22 year olds in the UAE to spread the word.

“In January 2016, a report released by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation during the World Economic Forum revealed that there would be more plastic waste in the sea than fish by 2050,” said Tatiana Antonelli Abella, founder of Goumbook. “Plastic use increased twenty-fold over the past 50 years and is expected to double again in the next 20 years. Considering single-use plastic takes on average 450 years to decompose into equally toxic microplastics, we urgently need to involve younger generations in the dialogue on a single-use plastic pollution.”

Those interested will have until December 14 to apply and a number of ambassadors will be selected in January to gather pledges on the website, www.dropityouth.org, to refuse the single use of plastic.

“[Young people] can act as a wonderful catalyst for the adults around them to start reflecting on their habits as consumers, so we decided to create a format whereby we empower them to become advocates of sustainability,” she said.

“We got a lot of interest from young people so we’ll give them the materials to run their own awareness campaigns in their community, schools and year groups. If the message comes from the youth, their families and communities will also listen more because they will demand that things change."

Students are invited to submit a one-minute video application through dropityouth@goumbook.com. It will be reviewed by a jury of education and sustainability specialists, who will select the most inspiring candidates.

Becoming an ambassador will allow environmentally conscious teenagers to inspire sustainable living practices in their schools with the support and guidance of Goumbook’s team of environmentalists, and their supporting partners at EWS-WWF, Eco-schools, Surge and Sandy Seeds.

The campaigns will run in the UAE from January to the end of April, when an Arabic website is to be launched.

Abella said: “The idea is if we give [young people] access to movie screenings and book awareness programmes with us and our partners, we’ll empower them and it will be up to them to create awareness as much as possible and get more pledges.

“The idea is we finish before Ramadan [2018] starts. There are many active people raising awareness in the environment so it’s about reaching out to them.”