Primary school kids have the solution to plastic pollution

That’s right! Not only do children as young as 7 have the future in their hands – they’re also making sure that this future will be plastic-free. This autumn, Dopper and Designathon Works  have organized the Changemaker Challenge Junior, and over 15,000 primary school kids from years 4 – 8 took part. Working in small groups, they came up with solutions to the plastic problem. And their ideas were out of this world – see for yourself!

Everything from dogs being trained to clean up litter, to toys made from recycled materials and from apps with tips on how to live sustainable to global awareness campaigns and games. The jury was made up of Merijn Everaarts (Dopper), Bruno Prent (SpangaS), Klaas van Kruistum (ZAPP), Frank Wassenberg (MP for the Party for the Animals), Ronja Hartman (VN Youth Representative) and Mirjam  de Bruijn (Twenty) and they found it almost impossible to choose from the twelve finalists. We’re delighted to announce the three winners here. As far as we’re concerned, they each deserve an audience with the king and a high five from Boyan Slat.

Number 1: Trash Bird

We don’t care if we lose, we just hope the environment gets a little cleaner,’ say the winners Milan, Demi, Aimee and Ilse from year 8 –  Talentenlab, Almere.

The Trash Bird looks like a real bird. It collects waste and brings it to special waste receptacles. When the receptacle is full, it closes automatically and the drone knows to go to another one instead. At the same time, people get a notification on their phone telling them to collect the container. The plastic is then recycled, and can be used to make new drones. The drones charge during the day, and they fly at night. This means they don’t bother people,  and you don’t run the risk of people damaging the drone or deliberately throwing waste on the street to see the Trash Bird in action.

Joint second place

Eco Ice Cream Shop  –  Lois en Day, Veronicaschool Haarlem

Not only are the ice cream and tubs completely organic – this ice cream shop fully implements the concept of a circular system (even if Day and Lois, from year 5, probably don’t know this term). The water that is released when ice cream is made is collected and used to water trees and gardens in the area. The ice cream coolers are energy-efficient. The napkins are made of recycled paper, the waste bags are biodegradable and, of course, the ice cream is only served in edible cups or cones!

WorldFA – Adinda and Feline, St. Adalbertusschool, Spaarndam

No more plastic shampoo bottles – just fill your own refillable bamboo bottle with shampoo in the supermarket! Simply choose your shampoo from the machine (made from recycled material). Feline and Adinda from years 7 and 8 would love to present their idea in the Jeugdjournaal. We think that’s a great idea!

Give these kids an audience

We’ve all been dreamers, just like these primary school kids, but over the years we’ve somehow become more sceptical. We want to let the next generation know that we need them, that they have to believe in their dreams, and that they can make a real difference. And that we – the grown-ups – are going to listen to them. That’s why we’ve sent letters: to the Dutch King, to Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and to the European Parliament. These kids deserve to be heard.

About the Changemaker Challenge

It is code red for our oceans. The seas are turning into plastic soup, as a truckload of waste per minute continues to disappear into the water. And by 2050 there will be more plastic in there than fish. That’s why the Dopper Foundation and Designathon Works started the Changemaker Challenge, a national competition to find solutions for the plastic problem. This competition is for our children: they have our future in their hands, they are allowed to dream, they want to take action, and don’t understand why the impossible can’t happen. Next year, this challenge won’t only be held in the Netherlands but in six countries across the globe, from Australia to Nepal. Watch out, disposable plastic – an awful lot of kids are coming to change the world!

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