PLASTIC POLLUTION OURWORLDHASARUBBISHPROBLEM,ANDIT’SHITTINGPEOPLELIVINGINPOVERTYTHEHARDEST. PAGE1 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE
Plastic is all around us — in our cupboards at home, in our lunch boxes and filling up our bins. We hear lots about how plastic is polluting the oceans and hurting wildlife — but we don’t often hear about how plastic pollution is also hurting people living in poverty. As we are people called to love our neighbour and care for creation, what does it looks like to play our part in tackling this rubbish problem? Did you know that every thirty seconds in the UK we throw out enough plastic to fill not one, but two double-decker buses? That’s a crazy amount of plastic.
Can you imagine what it would look like for two double-decker buses to turn up outside every thirty seconds? Imagine how many buses would be parked outside within an hour! But what’s even more crazy, is that in the same time — every thirty seconds — enough plastic to fill not two, but thirty double-decker buses is burnt or dumped in developing countries. And in many of these countries there isn’t proper waste collection. This means that two billion people living in developing countries are living among mountains of waste.
We have a big global rubbish problem, but we know that it doesn’t have to be this way. During this session we will meet Daiane in Brazil who’s suffering from the impacts of plastic pollution; we’ll be inspired by young leaders from around the world who are shaking things up and, as a group, we’ll learn how we can join in with this rubbish revolution: restoring creation, tackling poverty and loving our global neighbours. You can use this session with a large group, or with a smaller, more informal group in a social setting. In some places we’ve given two options depending on the group size and age of the participants, so you can adapt it to work for your group.
Look out for these symbols: PAGE2 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE INTRO Need to make notes? We’ve left some space on the side of each page ORDERFREERESOURCESAHEADOFTIME Contact the We Are Tearfund team ahead of time to order some free youth action cards for use in the HERE I AM section to challenge big companies about their plastic waste. You can email us on email@example.com or message us on Instagram @WeAreTearfund. (If you can give us a couple of weeks notice that would be really helpful.) Best suited to a larger group such as a youth group, Christian Union, or schools work.
Best suited to smaller gatherings, including friends enjoying a meal together or a smaller group of students.
- What do you think of Rob’s idea to wear all his rubbish?
- Have you ever thought about how much rubbish you make? PAGE3 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE Need to make notes?
We’ve left some space on the side of each page ⬆ Back to start Watch the video now...
PART2: Now here’s a quick quiz for you: 1. How many pieces of plastic does the average person in the UK throw away each year? A: 700 B: 4,000 C: 6,000 Answer: The average person throws out over 4,000 pieces of plastic a year. That’s so much plastic isn’t it? If we piled up all the plastic from everyone in the UK, it would create a plastic mountain as high as Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. 2. So, how many times do you think all that plastic would fill Wembley Stadium? A: 3 times B: 8 times C: 23 times Answer: It’s enough plastic to fill Wembley Stadium 23 times.
How many times would it fill The Royal Albert Hall in London? A: 20 times B: 450 times C: 1,000 times Answer: It’s enough plastic to fill the Royal Albert Hall 1,000 times. DISCUSS:RUBBISHCHATS PAGE4 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE Need to make notes?
We’ve left some space on the side of each page ⬆ Back to start
- Considering the impact of our plastic use on the world around us reveals the damage we are doing to all of God’s creation — the environment, animals and people. If we continue to ignore our rubbish problem, do we love creation as God does? In this passage we’re about to read, God is speaking to Noah about the importance of creation.
- Read Genesis 8:13-19 and 9:12-16 BIBLESTUDY:GODLOVESCREATION PAGE5 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE ⬆ Back to start Time for a game of Ladders! Get the group to sit on the floor in two lines, facing each other, with their legs stretched out in front of them. Each person’s feet should be touching the opposite person’s feet. Assign each pair sitting opposite each other an animal. You’re going to read the passage aloud to the group. The passage mentions animals, birds, and creatures that move along the ground, so each pair should work out which category their animal fits into before you start the game.
As you read the passage aloud, as soon as you have mentioned ‘animals’, ‘birds’, or ‘creatures that move along the ground’, the relevant pairs will get up and race their partner, jumping over all the legs in the ladder to the end of the row, running behind the rows to the other end of the ladder, and back over the ladder until they return back to their spot. Make sure everyone knows which way to run to avoid collisions! The person in each pair who returns to their spot first wins a point for their team. After reading the passage, discuss the questions below in small groups. Perhaps print them out and encourage them to write down their answers to each one as a group.
Hand out Bibles and write up the questions below on A3 paper or on a whiteboard. Encourage people to go through the passages and note down where they find answers to the questions in the text.
QUESTIONS 1. Why did God flood the Earth? 2. Why do you think God chose to save animals from the flood? 3. As displayed in the rainbow, God makes a covenant - a promise - to Noah. He includes all creation in that promise. Why do you think he does that? 4. Do you think God still feels the same way about creation today? (If you’re unsure, look up Hebrews 13:8 and discuss how it might be relevant) SUMMARY In Genesis 1 we see God design and create everything in this world. At the end of each day he says it is ‘good’ – the plants, the animals, the people and everything he’s made. In this passage about Noah and the flood, and all the way through the Bible, we see a God who cares for creation, who values it, and who cares for the people impacted when creation is mistreated.
But the Bible says ‘creation is groaning’ (Romans 8). All the things we know about plastic pollution shows us that creation is groaning or struggling because of the way we’ve misused and damaged it - and the way we’ve damaged creation is impacting people living in poverty the most. But as God’s people, we can make a real difference. BIBLESTUDY:GODLOVESCREATION PAGE6 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE ⬆ Back to start
Our rubbish problem isn’t just about too much litter in the UK. Plastic pollution is damaging the whole world around us. What are some of the effects of this rubbish problem? Watch the video now...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5z2s_klZkFg PAGE7 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE VIDEO:PLASTICPOLLUTION While you watch the video, write down on sticky notes everything you hear about why plastic pollution is such a big problem. From watching this short clip, we can see that our plastic problem is having a big impact all around the world.
- How do you feel after watching the video?
- Did you know this already or has it shocked you?
- What did you write down for the question ‘Why is plastic pollution such a big problem?’ Things they could have written down from the video clip:
- More trash than life in the deep ocean
- We don’t think of consequences when we throw things away
- It doesn’t break down
- We have microplastics in our drinking water and in us
- It makes people in poverty sick ⬆ Back to start
So, God has created this beautiful world for us to live in and he has given us the job of taking care of it, but when we throw things away we often don’t think about what happens next.
In this next activity we’ll think about where our rubbish goes and how long it lasts. We’ve got a whole bunch of items here and you have to try and work out how long it takes for them each to break down. ACTIVITY:HOWLONGUNTILIT’SGONE? Stick up each time category around the room, and have all the items on cut out slips of paper. Read out each of the items — or ask a young person to come pull one out of a pot — and then they all have to run to the time they think it takes that item to break down. To reveal the answer, stick up the item to the correct time, and then read out the next one.
Write out the set times and items on peices of paper for the group. You have three minutes to decide as a group, which object(s) should go in each category. PAGE8 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE ⬆ Back to start Times Items 1 month paper bag 2 years crisp packet 10 years styrofoam cup 20–50 years fizzy drink can 80–200 years nappies 450 years tinfoil Never glass bottle plastic six-pack holder sanitary products banana skin plastic straw disposable coffee cup plastic bottle rolled-up newspaper apple core cigarette butt plastic bag
ANSWERS As you read the answers out, encourage the group to make sure all of theirs are in the right order and to rearrange them if not.
1 month: paper bag, apple core 2 years: banana skin 10 years: rolled-up newspaper, cigarette butts 20–50 years: plastic straws, plastic bag, fizzy drink can 80–200 years: disposable coffee cup, nappies, crisp packet 450 years: plastic bottle, plastic six-pack holder, sanitary products Never: glass bottle, styrofoam cup, tinfoil SUMMARY Looking at our sorted list(s) now — do any of these surprise you? Why? How many did you get right? Did anyone get all of them correct? Lots of the plastic ones (straws, bags, crisp packets, disposable cups, sanitary products, bottles) do break down, but they only break down into smaller and smaller pieces, so we could have put them in the ‘never’ category.
Unlike apples or newspapers, they’ll never totally disappear but just end up as loads of tiny tiny pieces called microplastics.
When we put something in the bin, we rarely think about it again. Yet so much of what we’ve thrown away after using it only once will be around for many more years. The answers in this game are only a guess: some things could take much longer to decompose, especially if they’re in landfill. DIDYOUKNOW...? If Henry VIII had drunk water from a plastic bottle and thrown it away, the plastic could still be here now! (But there were no plastic bottles in the 16th century.) ACTIVITY:HOWLONGUNTILIT’SGONE?
PAGE9 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE ⬆ Back to start
Let me tell you about Daiane Maria.
Daiane is 23 and lives with her sister and family in Recife, Brazil. She says, ‘It only has to rain and everything floods. A lot of rubbish comes down the river... What I see most are water bottles and fizzy drink bottles, the type of bottles that are not returnable.’ When all the waste comes down the river, it blocks waterways and causes people’s homes to flood. Plastic waste like this also creates a breeding ground for diseasecarrying mosquitoes, bugs that carry dangerous diseases.
Daiane says, ‘When it floods, everyone gets diarrhoea and sickness. Just this week I had to help my daughter, who was vomiting. Another problem is the rats. There are lots of rats. I get very down, but there is nothing I can do about it, because I don’t have anywhere else to go.’ Daiane’s community isn’t the only one affected by plastic waste. Big global companies are making this rubbish problem worse. They sell billions of products in single-use plastic packaging in poorer countries where waste isn’t collected. Companies like: Coca-Cola (who make Coke, Sprite, Costa Coffee, Innocent Smoothies) Nestlé (who make KitKats, Smarties, Haagen-Dazs, Nesquik) PepsiCo (who make Walkers, Doritos, Pepsi) and Unilever (who make Ben and Jerry’s, Walls Ice Cream, Marmite and Magnums) These big companies make so much of the stuff we eat and use in the UK, but they also sell billions of plastic products in poor countries too, making things worse for communities like Daiane’s.
They do this in full knowledge that people will have no choice but to burn the waste, throw it into waterways or live among it. Daiane says, ‘If I could send a message to the companies, it would be to tell them to stop throwing rubbish our way.’ CASESTUDY:DAIANE’SSTORY PAGE10 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE ⬆ Back to start
- Stories like Daiane’s show just how massive our rubbish problem is. And as we continue to buy from companies who contribute to plastic pollution, more people suffer. What is God’s plan to help people like Daiane? In this passage we’re about to read, God tells Moses his rescue plan for his people who are suffering.
- Read Exodus 3:1-10 Discuss in groups, or all together, these four questions: 1. Who does God want to rescue? Why? 2. What is God’s plan for rescuing them? Who does he ask?
3. Do you think God hears the cries of people in poverty today? 4. What do you think God’s plan is for rescuing them today? Who do you think he is asking? BIBLESTUDY:GODLOVESHISPEOPLE PAGE11 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE ⬆ Back to start Hand out Bibles and ask everyone to find the passage, one between four, and hand out a blank piece of paper and a pen to each person.
Ask everyone to divide their page into six boxes, and then draw out the story from this passage as a cartoon across those six boxes. They can add colour and details if they like, or just make some quick stick-people diagrams with speech and thought bubbles.
Once they’re done, ask everyone to stick them up on the wall or place them in the middle of the room. Ask people what they can see that’s the same or different about them all. Ask three people to read the passage — one as the narrator, one as God’s voice, and one as Moses’ voice (and his thoughts). Summary In this passage God saw people he made and loved, suffering. This broke his heart and he had to respond — he asked Moses to go, speak up and challenge those in power to set the oppressed free. Moses began a revolution that saw all Israelites set free.
We see people suffering around the world today in lots of ways — people in poverty, slavery, people being discriminated against.
God hears their cries and he asks us to speak up. Plastic pollution is making lives harder for people living in poverty. People like Daiane are suffering and God hears their cry.
Together we can respond like Moses. We can speak up and make a real difference. We’re going to ask those four companies we heard about earlier to take responsibility for all the plastic waste they create. Companies care a lot about what their customers think, because we’re the ones who buy their products and help them make a profit. CUSTOMERACTIVITY Ask everyone to stand up, and ask them to sit down as soon as they hear a product they’ve bought themselves, or their parents have bought, this month. Then read out the product names for one of the companies below. Play the game four times, once with each company.
Coca-Cola. They make: Coke, Sprite, Costa Coffee, Innocent Smoothies Nestlé. They make: KitKats, Smarties, Haagen-Dazs, Nesquik PepsiCo. They make: Walkers, Doritos, Pepsi Unilever. They make: Ben and Jerry’s, Walls Ice Cream, Marmite and Magnums Lots/all of us here are customers of these companies so, when we all speak up together, we can make a difference. Thousands of people around the world are speaking up together and asking these companies to take responsibility for their rubbish and we’re going to join the Rubbish Revolution by signing the petition.
ADDYOURVOICE Hand out an action card and a pen to each person and show them how to add their voice to the petition.
Make sure people complete the form including the details. Give them some time to read through the card and fill out the form and then collect them all in. PLANINADVANCE Contact the We Are Tearfund team ahead of time to order some free youth action cards (if you can give us a couple of weeks notice that would be really helpful.) You can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on Instagram @WeAreTearfund. Once they’re all signed, pop them in an envelope and post them back to our head office at: We Are Tearfund (youth team), Tearfund, 100 Church Road, Teddington, ENGLAND, TW11 8QE ACTIVITY:HEREIAM PAGE12 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE ⬆ Back to start
As well as speaking up, there are so many things we can do in our own lives to cut back on plastic waste. Lauren Singer lives in New York and has made loads of changes to reduce her waste. Maybe you can inspire your housemates or family to make lots of changes like Lauren, but even today we can start making some small steps ourselves. CASESTUDY:LAURENSINGER Split into groups of 4-5 and follow the instructions to the left. Share some stories of people you’ve heard about who are reducing their waste. Maybe it’s someone you know, someone you follow online, or maybe it’s something you’ve been doing yourself to make a difference.
Discuss the questions: 1. Have you, your family or friends done anything to reduce how much rubbish you make? What have you done? 2. What cool ideas have you seen online from people or companies reducing their waste? 3. What could you do to cut down how much waste you throw out? PAGE13 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE ⬆ Back to start Watch the video now...
- Saying sorry for the way we’ve damaged creation.
- Asking God to help people like Daiane.
- Asking God to use you.
PAGE14 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE ACTIVITY:PLASTICPRAYER ⬆ Back to start Split into groups of 4-5 and follow the instructions to the left. Choose someone to draw the outline of the earth and ask the group to come up with a list of different single-use plastic objects. Give each person an object to draw, cut out and then add their prayer to. (Note: you can repeat objects.)
PAGE15 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE TAKEACTIONAGAINSTPLASTICPOLLUTION Remember when you discovered your persona using the quiz earlier in these sessions? Knowing your unique skills can help you respond effectively to issues impacting people living in poverty.
Let’s join together, make a stand against poverty and help our global neighbours. On the next few pages, you’ll find suggested activities for your persona. If you were a combination of two or more personas, choose which one appeals to you the most.
Tackling this rubbish problem is going to take lots of us. Get a big group together and organise a waste walk. It could be a beach clear up, a walk along your local river or through some littered alleyways or parks. As you walk, you can tell the story of Daiane to inspire people to be part of the rubbish revolution. PLANNING 1. Decide where to go — where is there a lot of rubbish and people can get to easily? 2. Pick a date and time. Think about when people will be free (holidays/ weekends) or could you choose a day like World Environment Day (5 June) or World Clean-up Day (a date in September each year)?3. Get permission. Get in touch with your local council about the waste walk. They might even agree to provide equipment such as litter sacks. 4. Plan the event. Visit the clean-up location and plan the event there. Work out the places where:
- people will meet
- the clean-up will start and end
- the litter will be sorted
- the litter will be taken afterwards. 5. Plan what to do if you find dangerous litter, like needles, car batteries, or other things. Check out our online guide and, if you’re under 18, ask an adult to help.
ACTIVITY:TAKEACTION–THEMOBILISER ⬆ Back to start
PAGE16 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE PROMOTING Spread the word. Tell friends, family, your community and church about the event. Why not involve your local newspaper or radio station? Try and make a list of everyone who’s coming, and ask them to bring the equipment they need, like gardening gloves. Let us know your plans and tag us in your promotional posts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @WeAreTearfund so we can share it too. ONTHEDAY 1. Bring any equipment you will need, eg gardening gloves for you and a few spare, litter bags for everyone and a first aid kit for a responsible adult.
2. Welcome everybody, and explain the plans for the day and why you care. 3. Collect the litter.
4. Sort the litter. 5. Debrief. Congratulate everyone and take a group photo. 6. Then take the rubbish to the local recycling centre or wherever you agreed with the council. AFTERTHEEVENT Share your results on social media, blogs etc. See if you can tell your story at church and let us know about how it went too. ACTIVITY:TAKEACTION–THEMOBILISER ⬆ Back to start
PAGE17 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE Time to get creative and turn your trash into treasure. Collect up all the non-recyclable plastic you use for a week or two and then make something fantastic from it.
GETSTARTED: 1. Ask your parents/housemates to wash and save up all the non-recyclable plastic from your home for a week and put it somewhere safe so it’s not thrown out accidentally. 2. Get planning for what you might make. Will it be 2D or 3D? Will you use it to promote the campaign or to make gifts or things to sell? Think about what will grab people’s attention when they see a photo or their own item, but also be achievable.
- 3. Make sure you have time set aside and everything you need – glue, scissors and so on. 4. Plan how you want to use it, your creation can inspire so many more people. Whatever you decide, let us know by messaging on Instagram or emailing us at email@example.com
- Online: You could use your creation for Instagram posts about how plastic impacts people in developing countries, and tag all the companies that made the plastic, or you could make a vlog of the process and talk about what you learned about today.
Offline: Could you ask to share about it in an assembly or church service to tell more people about the problem of plastic? Tag the companies who made the rubbish.
5. And when you’re finally finished using it let us know how it all went — if it’s a solid creation, you could even post it to us and we’ll use it in our campaigning to companies too. ACTIVITY:TAKEACTION–THEMAKER ⬆ Back to start
PAGE18 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE Plastic is everywhere, but when we speak up we can make a real difference. Does your school, church or university use lots of disposable packaging, cups or other single-use items? Ask your friends to speak up with you and ask those in charge to make a change. 1. Get some friends together and brainstorm three things: a. What’s the biggest waste culprit? Is it single-use cups at church, is it food packaging where you have lunch, or is it something else? b. What’s an easy way this could change? How could the school/church/ university reduce this waste easily?
c. What might stop them from agreeing to your request? – if it’s moving to mugs instead of paper cups, who would wash the mugs, who would buy them? Could you try and think of solutions – maybe the youth group could offer to wash up church cups once a month, or you could fundraise to buy them? Thinking through their main obstacles to make a change will make it easier for them to say ‘yes’ when you ask. 2. When you’ve done your thinking, ask to meet the person in charge and book a date to meet them.
3. Once you’ve got a date, write a letter explaining why you care about plastic, and what they can do to make a difference, including your easy ways to make a change and your solutions to what might stop them from agreeing.
And then ask lots of people to sign it. Could your whole youth group sign the letter to the church leader? Could your whole year group sign up for the letter to your teacher? 4. Go to the meeting and give them your letter. Thank them for meeting and see what they can do to help. Hopefully it’ll be a really constructive and positive meeting and you’ll be able to get them to commit to making a change. 5. If they say no, don’t give up! Ask them why, and then take that challenge back to the group and see if there’s a way you can help find a solution. And ask them what else they will do to reduce plastic pollution.
If what you’ve asked for is too difficult, hopefully they’ll agree the issue matters and will be able to commit to something else that makes a difference.
ACTIVITY:TAKEACTION–THEACTIVIST ⬆ Back to start
PAGE19 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE There are 2 billion people in the world’s poorest countries living and working among piles of waste because their rubbish isn’t collected. But in the UK we can make a choice. We can reduce our plastic and make a difference. Challenge yourself and the people you live with to give up all singleuse plastics for a week. It’ll take some creative thinking and you’ll have to let go of some stuff you usually use, but by doing it you’ll be standing up for people who don’t have a choice and raising awareness of how much plastic we’re surrounded by here too.
Think about how you can help your family/housemates to buy food free from packaging. If you don’t normally do the shopping, plan with the people who do. You might want to start planning a couple weeks in advance so you have time to find alternatives and get creative together. 1. Have a quick look through what’s in your bin at the moment. What’s your biggest single-use plastic culprit? How can you cut that out or reduce it next week? 2. How can you buy food without packaging? Could you buy veg loose and take a tupperware to the meat stand in your supermarket?
3. What food might you have to miss out on this week and what could you swap it for? 4.
How about cleaning, can you reduce the waste there? 5. And in the bathroom, do you use any single-use plastic? Can you find an alternative? You could get yourself a bar of soap for showers and another for handwashing. 6. Do you have a zero-waste or refill shop near you? Could you get some rice, pasta, snacks and other things from there? Have a look online for your nearest store. You don’t have to do everything – it’s only a week – but by thinking through what single-use plastic you usually use, it will help you plan and prepare well together. The five top tips later in this guide might help get you started.
This is a tough one, and you’re bound to still make some rubbish during the week, but each time you do put something in the bin, stop and pray for the people who live among huge piles of it in the poorest countries. Maybe you could stick a reminder on your bin for the week so you don’t forget. ACTIVITY:TAKEACTION–THEADVOCATE ⬆ Back to start
PAGE20 PLASTIC POLLUTION / YOUTH WORKER RESOURCE Single-use plastics are plastic items that are only intended to be used once, such as soft drinks bottles. The most common items include disposable cups, drinks bottles, non-recyclable packaging, wipes and female hygiene products. Finding alternatives to these plastics is easier than you might think! It can be very satisfying to know that you are walking that little bit lighter on the earth – and often, it saves you money too. Seven ways to cut down on your plastic waste: 1. Switch to using a reusable coffee cup (stainless steel or bamboo cups are best).
2. Carry a reusable water bottle with you and refill it at home or work (the most long-lasting and easily recyclable types are made from stainless steel or glass). 3. Cut down on plastic packaging by buying fruit and veg loose, either from the supermarket, greengrocer or market, or in a veg box. If your supermarket doesn’t sell loose fruit and veg, ask them to! 4. Switch to reusable cloths over wipes (even ‘biodegradable’ ones). Choose organic cotton or bamboo as the supply chain is more ethical. 5. Use soap and shampoo bars instead of liquid products in plastic bottles. 6. If you have young children, think about switching to reusable nappies – even switching for daytime wear will make a big difference.
7. For women, consider whether you can switch to more sustainable period products, such as menstrual cups, reusable sanitary pads and period-proof pants. What might you do to start reducing your waste today? TOPTIPSTOHELPYOUREDUCEYOURWASTE—ADVOCATEHANDOUT ⬆ Back to start
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