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Plastic Pirates with Naturfreunde Wien

Plastic Pirates


Gloria Corradini

Short summary:

Plastic Pirates is a great format for individuals and schools to get active cleaning up your hometown! On the 22nd of September, we were invited by Naturfreunde Wien to organize a Plastic Pirates event with 40 teens from a local middle school. Read more about the event in the following article.

On Friday 22nd of September, we were invited to organize a big clean up event along Alte Donau in Vienna together with Naturfreunde Wien. The participants were 40 teens from the Mittelschule Kagran. The event taught the teens about waste pollution, waste separation and the impact of microplastic on the environment. We used the Plastic Pirates format, which had been developed by Green Steps in 2017 in Shanghai. It includes, other than waste collection, also sorting, weighing, and storytelling. The two participating classes were registered on the Green Steps ARK web-app, to award after the activity Impact Points to the children and log on their account how many how many kg of trash have been collected.

We met at 8:30 in the beautiful location “Freizeitzentrum Alte Donau” owned by Naturfreunde Wien. Here, people can relax in a lovely park with large trees, while tasting drinks and snacks from the canteen and enjoy refreshing dives into the Donau. Each child received a washable and reusable bag from Naturfreunde to collect the waste, thick gloves, and long bamboo tweezers. There was a general briefing, the classes were separated in two groups and at 9:00 we were very excited to start the clean up on two separate routes.

During the entire way, the main source of trash were cigarette butts under picknick tables and benches. Cigarette butts are small, but extremely damaging for the environment. When on the ground, they have a negative influence on the plant’s life cycle, and they are also the top cause of wildfires. Once they reach the water, they are a big source of microplastic, polluting the water and causing problems to fish, water insects and ultimately to human health. One cigarette butt takes about 10 years to decompose!
Around 10:30, after cleaning up a 2km route, we ended our walk in the second Naturfreunde location, the Kletterhalle Wien. Here, we emptied our trash bags and the teacher explained to the children the different types of waste material and how to sort it based on the Viennese legislation.

Later, during the “storytelling”, we asked to the children to select the most interesting piece of trash that they had collected and come up with a story on how that object could have ended up in nature… And, as a final step of our Plastic Pirates, we weighted the sorted trash bags and we found out that we collected around 17kg of waste! The activity ended as always with group picture showing the Pirates and their bounty.

If you are interested in hosting a Plastic Pirates with us, just contact us at [email protected]. If you think you are ready to loot the neighborhood on your own, then check out our new manual on how to log kilograms of collected trash in school classes and student accounts. Its easy to do and creates a lasting memory of your contribution to restore mother earth.