On the 3rd of June 2020 at 11:30am three inspiring teens of youth-led initiatives Zaqiya Cajee (SwopItUp), Mary Skuodas (Teach the Future) and Yash Kerlekar (WeTechify) spoke at a virtual panel to discuss exactly why young people need to be more involved with the Circular Economy as part of #CEWeekLDN2020.
A total of 30 tuned in to the 45-minute panel discussion plus a 15-minute Q+A, which was chaired by the 18-year-old Imogen Clemett from SwopItUp. The central question steering the session was How involved are Young people in the Circular Conversation?
The online event was an opportunity for the young environmental leaders of the UK to have an engaging and thought-provoking conversation on how their projects are tackling climate change, and the need to raise awareness on the Circular Economy amongst the youth.
The discussion kicked off with our speakers sharing what Circular Economy meant to each of them. SwopItUp’s Founder, Zaqiya remarked: “For me it's all about keeping resources in use for as long as possible and changing the world works so we can adopt a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle whilst also being economically stable at the same time”. Mary agreed adding: “It’s a way of really understanding the value of our materials” whereas Yash underlined the value of the Circular Economy stating: “It is the future”.
The highlight of the virtual event was when our environmental leaders of the future shed light on the fact that there was very little education and conversation around the Circular Economy. All speakers believed fundamental principles on Sustainable living should be introduced to young people from an early age in schools in order to have a greater impact.
When asked; ‘How do you think Education on the Circular Economy could be integrated into the current syllabus?’ the speakers offered practical suggestions. Mary said: “Teach the Future’s aim is to reform the whole education system so sustainable principles such as Circular Economy can be woven through the National Curriculum”.
Yash suggested: “(As a start) DT or Art lessons can be centred around encouraging upcycling and recycling”. Zaqiya also agreed on this point, adding: “The Circular Economy should be addressed in every subject as “it’s everyone’s duty to learn about it and then adopt the practices”.
Throughout the discussion, listeners had been submitting their questions. Before moving on to them, Imogen asked the panel: ‘How can adults support younger people working in the CE?’ All speakers acknowledged the value of having adults around to support their projects. Mary explained: “Quite often, environmental campaigning is like banging your head against a wall!” but having a supportive network of adults around makes it worthwhile. Zaqiya also agreed having adults to help out and young people’s voices made a big difference, but she also expressed the need for having a reliable pool of funding in order to ensure the message is heard loud and clear.
The last question of the session was: ‘If you could have a conversation with Sadiq Khan about the Circular Economy, what would you say?’ All 3 speakers said there needs to be more of an effort in creating a city-wide platform where young people can connect and discuss Circular Economy in order to become more educated. “If we want this (Circular Economy) to be our future, then we have to be investing in young people, and getting them involved”.
A massive thanks to Circular London for inviting us to take part and recognising the importance of the voice of young people in the Circular Economy.
To watch a recording of the webinar click the link below and use the password: 5R?M8GB= https://bit.ly/SwopWebinar