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  • Shelby O'Neil

Glasgow, Scotland Sunnyside Ocean Defenders and Nae Straw At Aw!

Glasgow, Scotland's "Sunnyside Ocean Defenders" are making big waves with "Nae Straw At Aw" As we get closer to Earth Day (April 22nd), Jr Ocean Guardians will be featuring some amazing kids taking on single-use plastic pollution and making waves in their community




I've reached out to Miss Lisa Perrie from Sunnyside Primary School and she provided me the details on the Sunnyside Ocean Defenders. Please read her message below and prepare to be inspired!


Since the start of this academic year, the children have been engaging with large companies, which involves writing, visiting etc as well as completing research not only on the impact of plastics but also on viable alternatives.


As well as helping Living Seas and Ullapool PS make Ullapool a plastic straw free zone, the pupils have spread their campaign to Oban. Cal Mac Ferries invited us to Oban so we took the opportunity to speak to Oban High School while we were there too. The children have also visited schools in Kingussie, Arran and Ardrossan.


As well as rolling it out to local Glasgow schools, we have also taken it to the primaries on Arran where we are hoping they can make Arran, the first plastic straw free island. Places like Arran, Ullapool and Oban often have establishments where the managers are the owners, so it is easier for changes to be made. The issue we had in Glasgow is that most are chain restaurants however we were able to get the backing of Harvester, Nando's, Pret a Manger, Wagamamas and Marks and Spencer at our local shopping area...with most outlining their plans for addressing their use of single use plastic in the near future.

As well as Cal Mac, the pupils have also got the backing of Scotrail both of whom have helped with travel costs.

The children have fund raised for alternatives to plastic straws and cups lids and glasses and leave a pack with each venue they visit.


The campaign has been mainly social media led and the children make good use of twitter to get their message across and build up relationships with marine experts. Lucy Quinn who appeared on Blue Planet 2 visited the children. Lucy had contacted Cal Mac and asked to get in touch as she was so impressed with what the children were trying to do. She visited the school and with the children carried out two dissections on fulmar stomachs...we knew it was an issue but to find a bit of balloon in one and a cotton bud in the other was quite hard hitting for our pupils.


Our latest big success is that our milk supplier Muller has agreed to help recycle the current plastic straws we bin just now and are working with tetrapak to replace the current plastic straw with an alternative. I've always thought it was important that the pupils met the companies they were asking to bring about change and discussed the impact this would have on them as a business. Our feedback on taking this approach has been very welcoming and we feel that there has been an element of respect earned by the Ocean Defenders not just in what they have to say but in how they have listened too.


In fact, the group spoke at the ASSIST FM seminar made up of businesses responsible for the catering in schools throughout Scotland. That invite came at the recommendation of Muller who had come out to the school with tetrapak at the end of January/February. The children are also working with cordia who have reduced the single use plastic tubs which were used for cheese and grapes. Small steps but all helping hopefully.

A spin off of our plastic focus has been the Pretty Deadly campaign where we are trying to get Glasgow to ban balloon and lantern releases. We have been invited in to the City Chambers next week where this proposal will be formally put to the council.


Glasgow City Council have backed the #NaeStrawAtAw campaign too.

So there have been some lessons learned by us all on how to handle that and it gave us an opportunity to explore concepts we didn't think would be raised as we embarked on this path. It is so encouraging as we know we need as much help as possible to make a real difference. And that will come from groups like ourselves educating people on how simple things can make a difference.


To learn more, please visit Nae Straw Aw http://www.naestrawataw.org

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