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  • Dylan D’Agate

Ocean Plastic – Young People Tackle the Crisis

Updated: Dec 7, 2021

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, it is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish! Without motivated individuals and proper education, its disruption to our ecosystem will only become worse. I had the honor of speaking with Diego Arreola Fernández, 19, a rising star in the environmental movement to protect our oceans. During our discussion, we covered an amazing conference for young ocean activists called the Ocean Heroes Network and Bootcamp as well as Green Speaking, an organization founded by Diego himself.

Ocean Heroes Network and Bootcamp: Activists for Our Oceans

Diego believes that the most effective solution to the ocean plastics crisis will be changing our individual and collective habits, engaging politicians and business leaders to ban single-use plastics, and, critically, educating oneself and others about plastic pollution. Conceived by the Captain Planet Foundation and Lonely Whale, Ocean Heroes Network and Bootcamp is a collaboration among 14 ocean conservation organizations This program has already trained more than 600 young ocean activists from 30-plus countries to stand up for successful campaigns that remove single-use plastics from circulation by influencing policy on both the supply and the demand side. Ages 11 to 18, its members have already effected:

  • Single-use-plastics policy bans in their cities, states, and countries

  • Removal of single-use plastics from distribution in their school districts, at local restaurants, and coffee shops

  • Virtual reality training with Disney and Marvel

In 2019, this program was nominated as a “World Changing Idea” by Fast Company and named by the social media account of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as one of the 10 environmental organizations they were following. Ocean Heroes Network has recently expanded in partnership with World Sailing and the World Sailing Trust to engage their 153 member countries and the one million youth learning to sail each year, as well as the top youth sailors around the globe, to advocate for and create single-use plastic-free sailing events, clubhouses, and culture.

Green Speaking: Activists for Our Planet

After learning about the devastating consequences (threat to marine life, food safety) of plastic pollution on our ecosystem and excessive consumerism at the 2019 Ocean Heroes Bootcamp, Diego founded Green Speaking. Its mission:

  • To educate youth, and promote advocacy, from all over the world on environmentalism and communications

  • To uplift youth by amplifying their voices and unique perspectives, to assure climate justice for all

  • To impact plastic pollution, climate change, and environmental problems across the globe

More About Diego Arreola Fernández

I initially came across Diego and his nonprofit organization Green Speaking after a talk he delivered at the 2020 Brower Youth Awards (CLICK HERE). After listening to him speak, it became clear that he was passionate about the environment, especially eliminating plastics from our oceans. A public speaker, educator, human rights, and environmental activist from Mexico City, Diego has worked with international companies, non-governmental organizations, and governments, advocating for environmental and climate justice worldwide. He is currently a Lester B. Pearson Scholar at the University of Toronto.

CLICK HERE for the interview with Diego Arreola Fernández.



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