I was impressed by the passion, enthusiasm and knowledge of many of the children who are participating in the Generation Green youth think tank, sponsored by British Gas. Age 7-14 we met at Dagenham docks to have a look around the Closed Loop recycling plant.
They were told all about recycling plastic bottles and were quite surprised that so much of the process was actually devoted to sorting out the different types of plastics and the different colours. There was also a machine that sniffed the plastic chips to check for any contamination – it had a ‘nose’ that was four times more powerful than a dogs. And one of the children told us that a dog’s nose is 1000 times more powerful than a humans (I don’t know if that’s true!).
At the end of the day the children came up with some green ideas. These included calling for more recycling bins in city centres, theme parks and fast food restaurants. They realised that domestic recycling was getting quite good but if you’re on the move facilities are generally pretty poor. They also complained about over-packaging of toys and suggested that companies making plastic bottles should reduce the number of colours and the materials they use to make recycling simpler.
One of the children recommended green buses promoting environmental issues. Another said that they wished there was green club in their area because they’d join it.
I was their expert advisor throughout the day and told them at the beginning that we wanted lots of questions – as it turned out that wasn’t a problem at all. They were amazing and had plenty to say. Here are some quotes from the day:
“I just want to make the world a better place.”
“The blades on wind turbines should be painted lots of different colours.”
“We should stop using industrial stuff like bricks and fossil fuels.” Followed by “That’s a bit drastic.”
“Humans are greedy.”
“Try giving everything up and forget about it.” Followed by “I won’t’
“Humans have dominion over the Earth so they don’t care what they waste.”
“We should cut out fossil fuels and make use of the energy around us – solar power, wave power etc.”
“I love knowing when you’re saving CO2”
“It’s a good thing that oil is running out – it might mean we have a greener world – the reality of it means we have to re-think and that renewables are the obvious choice.”
The next trip is in the Autumn. We’ll be taking the children to the Centre for Alternative Technology in North Wales. And there will be one more
trip before we pull together some of their policy ideas and take them to Downing Street. By that time we may have a new prime minister. But whoever is then residing at Number 10, they should be pleased to get some fresh ideas – these children are representing their generation. And they want to be heard.