If you don’t believe Climate Change is real, then you must have been living under a rock! We need to stop or slow down the rate at which climate change is happening!

Climate change refers to changes in the Earth’s climate from the gradual rise in temperature caused by high levels of Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Climate change is caused by the enhanced Greenhouse effect.  The greenhouse effect is a process that occurs when gases in Earth’s atmosphere trap the Sun’s heat.

660 thousand tonnes of plastic waste every year are created by Australians. 85% of soft plastics from bags and packaging ends up in landfill. The problem with plastic ending up in landfill is that it emits Methane and Carbon Dioxide. These are both potent greenhouse gases that contribute to the enhanced greenhouse effect.

Solutions that are being implemented

Proposed solutions to the problem of plastic is using reusable bags, packaging, plates, bowls and cutlery! Buying consumables, clothing, essentials, anything for that matter that have minimal packaging. Using your reusable water bottles rather than buying plastic water bottles.

A solution that is mostly used today for companies that do takeaway food and drink is bio packaging. It keeps your food warm and is made from plants which “biodegrade”. But is bio packaging really an effective solution?  Does this “biodegradable” packaging create more problems than it solves?

Indonesia and the production of bioplastics

Bio packaging is made using plants like, corn, cassava, sugar cane or beets which are then put through a milling process to extract the glucose (starch). The most widely used plant for bio packaging is corn.

Indonesia is used to plant the raw material such as corn used to produce the bioplastics. The big companies can easily find desperate people in need of work in developing countries and they can pay them low amounts to source the raw materials.

The soils of Indonesia are also very fertile. In Surabaya the capital of the Indonesian Jawa Timur province (East Java), a company that makes the bioplastics has paid people an inadequate amount of money to clear their land and farm corn.

Catrina Aniere is the CEO of Millennium Kids. Which is a not for profit environmental organisation run by kids. She has been to Indonesia and seen the clearing of land first-hand.

“I am really worried that in many poor communities in parts of Indonesia are growing corn in areas recently protected as forest.” Catrina said. “The land is cleared, and corn is grown in its place. Not only are the communities losing important forest and biodiversity these areas which were once protected are now adversely affected by floods which impact the area, soil is washed into rivers and crop areas become barren zones with impoverished landscapes unable to sustain new crops of corn and certainly won’t be able to be revegetated.”

Impact on the Environment

The clearing of the land by cutting down of trees has a massive impact on the environment. It greatly reduces the amount of carbon dioxide that is taken in from the atmosphere through photosynthesis by plants.

This results in more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Which leads to more heat being trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere. Which has a knock-on effect on climate change.

It also causes soil degradation and erosion which occurs because there are no deep-rooted plants to keep the soil in place. When trees are removed and crops like corn are planted which are shallow root plants it means that the soil can more easily erode

There is less soil which means there is less between the surface and the water table which is salty. This will raise the pH levels of the soil and decreases its fertility.

“Poor people can only afford the land repayments if the crop is successful. With poor crop yields and erosion from flooding farmers will become indebted and be unable to repay the costs of land.” Catrina said. “The resulting treadmill of the need to buy fertiliser and biocides, and reduced production of their own food, coupled with highly volatile prices for inputs and the export crops, and inevitably declining soil fertility has been devastating for both small land holders and the environment, further entrenching the poverty.”

Deforestation also reduces the area where endangered animals on the island can live. Like the Javan Blue-banded Kingfisher which is critically endangered. There are only between 50-249 Javan Blue-banded King fisher’s left.

Is Bio Packaging Really Compostable?

There is a worrying misconception of public that bio packaging can be composted or recycled.  The bio packaging can’t be composted by normal home composting. Currently a commercial composter to compost bio packaging is required.

Australia-wide there are only 9 industrial composters that can take the bio packaging from this particular company.

Some people put it in the normal bin hoping that it will be sorted and then be taken away to an industrial composting facility where it will be composted. This is not the case, as soon as you put it in the general waste bin it goes straight to landfill. It takes at least 40 years for the bio packaging to biodegrade in landfill and during the process it releases methane and carbon dioxide – so we’re back to a similar position as with normal plastic!

Some people also put the bio packaging in the recycling bin. However, Australia has no facilities to recycle the bio packaging and in fact putting bio packaging in the recycling bin could mean that recycling is “contaminated” and then all the recycling also ends up in landfill!

What Can We Do?

First and foremost, we should push for the company to get the building blocks of their bio packaging from sustainable sources and not to entice vulnerable people  anywhere to clear their land. Developing countries have already cleared plenty of land to make room for crops with disastrous effects.

We should also push for the Australian Government to get recycling facilities that can recycle the bio packaging. Another idea is that there are special bins for bio packaging so it can be taken to the commercial composting facilities that can compost the bio packaging.

We should also support companies researching and developing bio packaging that is produced sustainably and is able to be composted in our normal composters that we have at home.

Catrina is “not convinced that any throw away items are a solution – the very fact that all the energy used to grow the plants, manufacture the product and them throw them away does cost us the Earth.” Catrina’s preference is to have “products that are good for people and the Earth and promote a circular economy model. I will take my own cup to the shop if I need a takeaway.”

What do you think?

Article written by Jacob.

Bibliography:

Collins Dictionary2018, Collins Dictionary, viewed 6 March 2020, <https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/climate-change>.

Green, M 2013, Climate Change, viewed 7 March 2020, <https://www.mrgscience.com/44-climate-change.html>.

Mannix, L 2017, The compostable cup you can’t compost, and the trouble with our recycling system, The Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 13 March 2020, <https://www.smh.com.au/environment/the-compostable-cup-you-cant-compost-and-the-trouble-with-our-recycling-system-20170701-gx2kpu.html>.

Yeung, K 2018, Top 10 Indonesian Endangered Species, Indonesia Expat, viewed 13 March 2020, <https://indonesiaexpat.biz/lifestyle/top-10-indonesian-endangered-species/>.

 

A Story from Adi in Sumbawa

Covid-19 has effected many sectors of humanity in the entire world. Many people are losing their job, businesses, and even lost members of their family, friends and colleagues.

The situation is the same on my island Sumbawa. Before covid-19 has come, the situation was very normal which is all the community still working in the office, rice farm, selling vegetables and fish. But now it is becoming different where all people mostly can not go out from the home and village just because of covid-19. The number of positive covid-19 people is increasing day by day.

In our island it is very different from Australia, where many many people can not get money without doing some work each day. They can not feed their kids and their family without outdoor activity.

We SAVE needed to think how we can help these people through these times. Through our leadership experience we decided giving is the way out of this, with a strong connection between collaboration with the government and community to fight against the covid-19.

Some help is always helpful, no matter if it is small or big.  All we know it is very valuable to help the community. We worked together to donate masks, rice, vegetables, sugar, coffee, soap and cooking spices for the kitchens of the very needy community.

We have very strong reason why we need to drop these food parcels off.  The island is 90% Muslim and covid-19 is happening when all Muslim are doing Ramadhan ceremony. Through our contribution we are helping the government to make the community stay home.

For our first project we dropped some parcels of food to the village where Covid-19 has started.  We will continue to help the villages that need it.

Stay home, stay healthy and stay happy! We are always saying these words. We hope we can walk past this hard time to freedom to walk the streets again.

Our motto “spread the goodness and share the happiness”

Adi WE SAVE Member, Dompu, Sumbawa and MK Leadership Graduate

Thanks a trillion to the Rotary Club of Perth City East for helping our Lore Law crew out with recycled phones. Our young team in Coolgardie haven’t had face to face contact with Millennium Kids since the outbreak of COVID. Thanks to Instagram MK has been in contact with Jasmin, one of our leadership members in Coolgardie  who worked out a plan to keep in contact with the local Kids using mobile phones and social media. Thanks a million to Dr Lee Partridge who stepped up and involved her Rotary crew in collecting old phones for our Kids. With a donation of 12 phones we will be physically distanced but socially connected with our Coolgardie crew during this time of COVID.

A great big THANK YOU to Mei, Sophie and the SummerXSalt Markets team who organised a yoga fun raiser to help out not for profits. Millennium Kids was the recipient of a $500 donation that will help us raise awareness through our Waste Free Movement program.

During November – February our MK Waste Free Movement team helped out the markets on Saturday mornings by educating the public about waste and managing the waste area, identifying which waste went where.

If you haven’t ever been to the Summer X Salt Markets check out their calendar next Summer. Sustainability fun in the sun.

Hi! My name is Alexandra, I am 18 years old and I have a passion for the sustainability of our planet, specifically food waste. The mission of my project “The Planet Project” is to save valuable organic ‘waste’ from going to landfill.

My project started many years ago, but I officially named it this year. During this time I came to realise the amount of food that ends up in landfill, including the coffee grounds that I and others can use on their gardens, a high valuable nitrogen source. I wondered why this was so?

I started occasionally collecting coffee grounds from cafes to use in my worm farm, the worms loved them, plus it was free! I later got a job at a café and realised just how much is going to landfill, I figured that someone will do something about this, but a few years past and no-one did. This year I started a commercial cookery course at TAFE and I couldn’t believe my eyes with the amount of organics that get thrown away by just one class in one lesson. I couldn’t let it pass so I do what any mad gardener/environmentalist would do, I brought my composting bucket in, and took them home. My worm farms filled up quickly, so I used the money I made from selling worm castings (as organic garden fertiliser) and the compost worms to buy some more. At that point I realised I was creating the solution that I thought someone else would solve. Currently I am continually improving my system to take more ‘waste’ and convert them through worm farming effectively to a soil improver.
This is just the start of my project, I hope to one day be able to take all the organics from my community and return these valuable nutrients back to the soil.

I have purchased more worm farms I now have 9.

Guday, my name is Charles

My big question is:

How can we, as a community, restore our local bushland to the biodiverse wonderland it was?

I run a Friends Of Swan View Heritage Trail and we care for a large stretch of bush behind my house. We remove weeds by hand, so as not to disturb and damage our indispensable flora and fauna with synthetic chemicals. We then replant the area with a bounty of local native plants. I have taken groups on tours through my reveg to show them what we’re doing. I report on my findings and activities to MK every month. Cathy levett is my mentor, and without her I would have drowned in paperwork and official organisational business by now.

Let me know what you are doing to care for nature near your back door. We’d love to hear from you. Please email info@millenniumkids.com.au with your photo and story.

I have just returned from my awesome holiday in the Galapagos Islands and I want you to know that all MK bird lovers were in my thoughts as I was introduced to new bird species every day. I thought that you might be interested in a snapshot of what I saw and one or two photos.

On our first day we went to a little island just off Isla San Cristobal where Frigatebirds are nesting. The males put on an amazing display of puffing up their bright red throat. There were plenty of chicks to be seen. Blue-footed Boobies also inhabit the island and we were treated to a display of the mating ritual as our guide commentated. Brown pelicans were also added to my list as we returned to San Cristobal.  From then on I saw new birds everyday including cormorants, shearwaters, storm petrels, penguins, ducks, flamingos and more. I bought a little book to help me remember them all and because I know you will want me to be more specific with the ID.

Please tell me about your latest bird sightings. Visit a local wetland or park and see if you can ID some local birds. We’d love to share your findings on the MK website to inspire others to get out an about and learn about our beautiful birds.

Cathy Levett

MK Mentor

Hi MK Friends

I thought you would all like to know that we are doing well in the land of MK. Our kids are adapting to their on line world, holding meetings and decision making sessions with our tool of choice, Webex Meetings. Thanks to a new collaboration with Curtin University we are excited to be looking at putting some of our programs on line, with kids pitching ideas and getting mentor support to take their project from ideas to action. At this time we are all about physical distancing, not social isolation and relationships have always been at the heart of Millennium Kids so our mentor program will still feature in this new online process.

We didn’t jump right in, but we took time to reflect on what theses changes mean for young people and our programs. Our on line sessions will remain youth focussed, with our lead team of young people curating their own content, leading and presenting workshops on line – to inspire others to change the world.

Check out our new Low Carbon Labs which we will run weekly with small groups of young people. And watch this space as we will be launching a new online version of Green Lab soon.

CEO Cat

Last Friday, Millennium Kids hosted the City of Canning Changing Your World Youth Conference. We facilitated 75 young people from 8 schools and community groups sharing their ideas for a better future.

We started the morning with a beautiful welcome to country from Freda Ogilvie before we launched into brainstorming the things that young people like in their community, the things that they don’t like and the things that they want to change, linking them to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Throughout the day, the ideas for community change were developed into actionable projects in between exciting breakout sessions. One such session was an inspiring story about using snake handling to create social change, another was a series of workshops including activating space by building cubbies, birdwatching and creating an artwork to share our ideas about tress. During the day a wonderful local indigenous artist, Seantelle Walsh, listened to the young people and  transformed the visions of their future into a beautiful mural.

At the close of the day, kids pitched their ideas for change to the room, and a group from Bannister Creek Primary School, with plans to put solar panels on bus stops, was awarded a $500 grant.

The MK Youth Board members then took the mural and presented it at the adult conference to the CEO of City of Canning and spoke about the key community issues identified at the youth conference.

We cannot wait to see the kids ideas implemented.

Thanks to the City of Canning for the opportunity to listen to the kids.

By Rachel

Hi my name is Steph! I am a current University of Western Australia  student studying my Masters in Environmental and Agricultural Biotechnology. In high school, I began educating myself on the current state of our planet, and the mountain of issues that face it and its diverse collection of incredible inhabitants. As a result, I have dedicated countless hours of my personal time volunteering with local beach clean-ups, planting native trees, attending climate strikes, and helping conserve our native flora and fauna in any way that I can. This summer specifically, I spent a week on a remote island, disconnected from running water and electricity, in order to monitor Flat-back turtle populations in response to a changing climate!

My passion for the planet has guided my study choices at university. During my undergraduate degree, I pursued a double major in Chemistry and Conservation Biology. The two appear at surface, separate, however; Chemistry provided the fundamental understanding of the unique array of chemicals and compounds that encompass our planet and consequently the intricate relationships they influence. With the pursuit of my Masters I hope to learn about, and contribute to; creating sustainable, practical and affordable technological solutions for our present day environmental issues.

I am so excited to do my McCusker Centre for Citizenship Internship with Millennium Kids to further explore the different avenues of creating a sustainable future. I am especially excited to work with an organisation that highlights and prioritises the views and ideas of the younger generation, as we are inevitably the ones that will be facing all the future effects!