Young Achiever: students aim to save planet
Two Bermuda High School pupils organised a march to Cabinet Office as part of a global protest to tackle environmental problems.
Katarina Rance and Salayah Stange, both 15, marched with 12 other students from different schools to meet Cabinet members and offer policies to help protect the environment.
Katarina, from Devonshire, explained: “The march was about protecting the world we live in, especially for our younger generations.”
The girls said that they wanted a ban single-use plastics and styrofoam, put limits on meat supplies for grocery stores and tariffs on products containing palm oil because its production had led to large-scale deforestation.
They also made proposals to increase the use of carpooling and recycling to cut down on carbon emissions, fuel usage and waste.
Salayah added: “Tariffs would be hard since we import everything, but palm oil is one of the main reasons for deforestation, so we'd like to do our part in reducing that.”
The Devonshire resident explained that the march was a part of the Fridaysforfuture movement, a global protest where pupils leave their classrooms and walk to government buildings to urge those in power to introduce environmental protection policies.
The movement was inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish girl who staged a school walkout last year to ask the Swedish Government to reduce the country's carbon emissions.
Similar protests have happened in 168 countries over the past two years, with the last event, held on March 15, attracting about 1.6 million schoolchildren around the world.
Katarina said: “I was in Germany for an exchange and the movement was this huge thing when I was there.
“When I came back, I mentioned it in one of our history classes and no one knew what it was, so I went to Salayah and I explained it to her.
“She said ‘yeah, we should do this', and since then we've been working together to bring this to Bermuda.”
The girls organised their event, held last Thursday, with a website for people to register and through social media.
The pair co-operated with the Government by giving it advance warning and moving the protest to a Thursday to avoid a conflict with the Bermuda Day Parade.
She said the response from pupils to the protest was supportive, but that adults had been more critical.
Katarina explained: “In Fridaysforfuture you generally strike from school, so we'd talked with our principal and she said that we could do one after our exams or after school.”
Salayah added: “A lot of the reactions to our goals, some people think that it's unrealistic or that saying something won't change anything, but nothing's going to happen if you don't try.”
She added that the duo had also approached restaurants about the use of single-use plastics and many had introduced alternatives.
They said that they planned to carry out another protest to petition the Government to make further policy changes and declare an environmental emergency like the United Kingdom.
Salayah said: “The older adults will die from old age, but all of us here who can't vote, who don't have a voice and who can't take any action are going to die from climate change.”
Katarina added: “There is no Planet B. This is our only planet and we need to do what we can to protect it.”