Is education the key to saving our oceans?
July 2, 2014
by Olivia and Carter Ries
There’s nothing quite as inspiring as young people with a mission, and Olivia and Carter are always in motion – fighting the good fight. So listen up, these kids have some things they want us to know.
First, we’ll hear Olivia’s reflections after having attended John Kerry’s historic ‘Our Ocean 2014’ Conference this month.
As we attended the ‘Our Oceans’ conference at the State Department recently, it became apparent that there are a whole lot of people and countries who care for the future of our oceans. We heard experts from around the globe way-in on such issues as Ocean Acidification, Overfishing/Illegal Fishing and even about the issue of Marine Debris and Plastic Pollution.
We were all so excited to see the level of participation from so many countries and the sincere compassion participants demonstrated as they mapped out their plans to help our oceans. It was especially encouraging to hear how much support both financially and legislatively most participants were prepared to offer as they learned about the perils facing our oceans globally.
We heard pledges being made designed to protect even larger areas around various land masses and we were especially moved by the actor Leonardo DiCaprio as he committed an additional 7-million dollars to help create marine sanctuaries. But the one thing we did not hear… from anyone, was the word ‘Education‘. As future leaders of the next generation, we feel that everyone is missing a key component to the solution and that is teaching kids (our generation) about ways they too can get involved. We know first hand that if you teach kids about the issue, they are all too eager to want to be part of the solution.
And now, Carter’s thoughts on the matter:
It is fine to create a marine sanctuary and to seek out solutions which will ensure we are producing less carbon and creating larger no-fishing zones to allow species the opportunity to restore themselves to safe levels, or to seek ways we can work with manufacturers to ensure that they are producing less plastics etc. But, unless you incorporate some sort of global education program designed to reach the next generation of leaders and teach them at an early age and show them how they too can be the solution to the issue of plastic pollution, what have we accomplished?
Plastic pollution will continue to find its way into our ocean and eventually into the marine sanctuaries being created. We are producing more plastic waste than can ever be recycled. Most people here in the US and in most countries don’t even understand how a recycling system works. Most people think that just because they are sending all their plastic trash to a recycle center, they are doing their part to make a difference but the reality is that they are not.
My sister and I travel around the country and have even gone abroad visiting recycle centers and teaching kids about what we call “Precycling” and how that actually is even more important than recycling. What we would like to see is that the US and other countries take a serious look at providing an educational component to their ocean strategy.
We have already created a curriculum (Plastic and Recycling Awareness Curriculum) which was written to match the latest National Standards for science and we have even infused math, literacy and art throughout the program. We learned about the issue of plastic pollution while helping with the animal rescue efforts during the BP Gulf oil spill and we know first hand that if you give students the education they need on the issue, we can and will find the solution.
In closing, we wish to thank everyone for making our participation such a memorable experience and we sincerely hope to have the opportunity to work with you and your staff on ways education can be made part of the master plan. Remember, “Anybody can make a difference… if we can, you can too.”
Carter and Olivia Ries – Founders of One More Generation