Lincoln High School’s Taylin Smith and Alyssa Thomas are doing their bit for the environment and got to share their vision with the Prime Minister last week.
The Year 13 students, who attended the Suffrage 125 Celebration in Christchurch where the Rt. Hon Jacinda Ardern was the keynote speaker, gave the Prime Minister a waste free starter kit they have created as part of a social studies assignment.
The kits are composed of everyday items that replace one-use plastic products, such as glad wrap, plastic straws and coffee cups.
The goods have been purchased or donated by local franchises and groups, with some giving discounts for the project.
“It was awesome to be able to present one of our kits to Jacinda, to thank her for inspiring us by implementing legislation around things like the phasing out of single-use plastic shopping bags.
That work has an effect at a local body level and has moved young women, like us, to go out and make a difference in our communities,” Taylin says.
The girls took the opportunity when they realised they would meet the Prime Minister at the suffrage celebration, which marked 125 years of women being able to vote in New Zealand.
Taylin and Alyssa came up with the idea for kits earlier this year while brainstorming.
“We are both passionate about the topic of plastic waste in New Zealand and thought that creating the kits was the most effective way to influence changes in people’s lifestyles,” Alyssa says.
“We have a desire to preserve and protect the environment for generations to come – a desire that extends past the moral duty that a lot of people feel.”
The venture, called Waste-Free Me with the slogan ‘Help us, Help you, Help the environment’, has been well received by the school community and family and friends.
“We have pre-sold 22 of the 35 kits already.
There is such great support for this self-funded venture. It is so fantastic to see how many people really would like to live a more sustainable lifestyle,” Taylin says.
Both girls have big plans after leaving high school.
Alyssa is looking at studying Political Science, International Relations and Social Policy at Victoria University, with the hope it will provide a pathway for her to work with an aid organisation in the future.
“I am very passionate about helping the less fortunate and making a difference both nationally and internationally – which is where my passion for waste-free promotion comes from.”
Taylin has been granted a scholarship to study at The University of Science and Technology in Wuhan China for a semester and then plans to further her studies at the University of Canterbury.
“I aspire to use my Chinese skills and my passion for environmentalism in my future career. Whether this involves working with one of these amazing companies that promote sustainable products and helping them to go international, so their impact extends past our country, or working in government on finding solutions to environmental issues that New Zealand and the rest of the world face.”
• Follow the progress of the social action here.