11-year-old Lilly Platt, known online as Lillys Plastic Pickup, is an international environmental champion and a Youth Ambassador for the Plastic Pollution Coalition — a group of individuals and organisations committed to eliminating plastic pollution worldwide.
She started with a simple aim: to clean up the rubbish she found on the floor out in public. It’s not uncommon to see her tweeting that on her one time striking from school, she missed the train because someone threw rubbish out of their car and she had to clean it up.
The youngest person on the list has been making waves in the Netherlands, a country she moved to after being born in the UK. Her calls for people to find their ‘green heart’ — “a human’s embodiment of their bond with nature” — have been part of the reasons behind her success in securing the International EcoHeroAward 2019.
“Once you see it, you can never unsee it,” Lilly said in reference to plastic waste in an interview with Action for Nature. “I have been picking up all the plastic that I see every day when I go outside. In the last 4 years we have already collected more than 100,000 pieces of waste.”
She explains how she got started on a path to cleaning up plastic. “It was a beautiful day in 2015, the sun was shining and it seemed like my grandfather and me a good idea to take a walk to the McDonalds. Along the way I saw something lying on the floor, it was a piece of plastic. I didn’t think much of it and just kept on walking.
“But as we walked on, I saw more and more plastic. I thought ‘someone will probably clear that up’, so I asked my grandfather how exactly that was. He said that all that plastic ends up in the sea. It may take a day, a week, a month or even a year, but in the end it all ends up in the ‘plastic soup’. And that’s not the kind of soup you want to eat. ”
“Because I had just moved from London to the Netherlands, my grandfather and I decided that we would count all the pieces of plastic we encountered during the walk. That way I could practice with the Dutch numbers. Our walk lasted only fifteen minutes and yet we counted 91 pieces of plastic. ”
She’s been striking for 56 weeks in front of the town hall in Zeist, taking up a position every Friday from 9am to 10am.
“I think adults should let children speak,” she added. “After all, it’s not the adults who control the future, but we. Adults should not be allowed to determine the future of children, how much CO2 is emitted or how many trees are left over. They have to give a world to their children and grandchildren full of animals, a clean ocean and water of which not every liter is contaminated with plastic and oil. They must pass on trees, not cut-off tree trunks. ”
“That’s why my grandfather also gave me his vote during the elections in May. I couldn’t vote because you have to be sixteen for that. We actually didn’t think that was fair. Because the elections are about the future and children are the future. My grandfather colored the box, but my voice was the ink. ”
In a recent tweet, she explains that she met the editor at large for TIME, and give him a reusable bamboo straw and spork set, so that he would be able to “refuse single use plastic wherever he goes!”Tags: Activism, Climate crisis, Netherlands, plastic pollution