Meet Lilly, a young student in Thailand who often skips school for an hour to clean up her canals and streams. In the video, Lilly explains that she has learned more by cleaning up canals than she has by going to school. She is only 12, but is wiser than most adults when it comes to actually doing something to help our planet. This shows that age really is just a number — a limitation self-imposed by many as a reason why you should or shouldn’t do something.
Meet Lilly, the girl on a mission to end Thailand's plastic addiction. pic.twitter.com/GjbDXJckkv
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) October 4, 2019
Lilly wants to make a difference, and inspired by Greta Thunberg, she is doing just that. Greta is important to her because of what she stands for. Greta is living proof that kids can make a difference. Adults often see kids as innocent, helpless versions of themselves who need to be taught and trained. This is somewhat true, but we often forget that children are their own people. They have dreams, goals, and feelings, too. And having a fellow older child from Sweden stand up and say that you can make a difference no matter how old or young you are is empowering.
Lilly has become a leader in her country for the mission to end plastic addiction in Thailand. Thais use 70 billion plastic bags per year. Thailand ranks 6th on the list of offenders for dumping plastic waste into the sea, according to Siam Commercial Bank’s Economic Intelligence Center.
Going to school, in my opinion, is important. Actually, let me rephrase that — education is important, whether it’s at school or at home. Learning how to read and write and do math are very important skills that will help you succeed in life. However, standing by and doing nothing while we dump plastic into the oceans will eventually end all life, so what is more important? If our governments are not providing innovative solutions to plastic waste worldwide and to the threat of climate change, who will be there for our children when we eventually die off and leave them to an environment that is toxic to their health?
If we, collectively speaking here, turn a blind eye to a problem we all have contributed to, then who are we to judge a child for skipping classes to clean up our mess? Education is definitely important, but only if our species is alive to learn it. Think about this before you drop a can into the river: where is it going to go? What will happen to it?
Think about what that can is made from. Most likely it’s aluminum. Did you know there is such a thing as aluminum toxicity? This occurs when we ingest or breathe in high amounts of aluminum. Think about the seafood you consume and then think about all the aluminum cans in the oceans that come from the rivers and streams they are dumped into. Complications from aluminum poisoning include:
- Lung problems
- Nervous system problems causing difficulty with voluntary and involuntary actions
- Bone diseases
- Brain diseases and disorders
- Impaired iron absorption
By poisoning the environment, we are killing ourselves. Laughing as you drop a plastic bottle into the sea because you feel rebellious will bite you in the end when you discover that you and millions like you have yourselves to blame for your parts in destroying our environment. Sometimes, our environment can do something about it. Sea glass is beautiful pieces of glass washed up onto the shore, often glass from bottles dumped into the ocean. Still, it is not okay to dump your waste into our rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans. Water is life. Putting your waste into our life support cuts it off.
However, one person may stop or not contribute it and still suffer the consequences of those who do. That one person may feel helpless and don’t know what to do. Let’s learn from Greta and Lilly. See how they are taking action. If one child from Sweden can stand up and start a movement that leads her in front of the United Nations to demand answers, then what can you do? Imagine the possibilities. Go out there and do something.