Young changemakers take to the sea on plastic bottle kayaks


Young change-makers take to the sea on plastic bottle kayaks in a bid to educate kiwi kids about sustainability.

A passionate group of young people are on a mission to make sustainability exciting and educational, undergoing an epic adventure powered by nearly 1000 plastic bottles and a bit of kiwi ingenuity.

With the aim of harnessing innovative design to construct kayaks solely from recycled materials, the "waste positive" project Plastic Bottle Kayak brings adventure into Kiwi classrooms. The call is out now for classrooms to send in messages and artwork to be inserted into the bottles. These will be the world’s first up-cycled "message in a bottle boats". Teachers are encouraged to sign up their classrooms to the free programme now and get involved in the journey from beginning to end.

Following a successful 100km adventure through the rapids of the Whanganui River in 2013, this year Plastic Bottle Kayak is bigger and better with a three day adventure, which takes place from March 22-24. The expedition will see the youth leaders paddle through New Zealand’s only coastal national park the Abel Tasman; a marine reserve facing threats such as plastic pollution and climate change and the site of successful historic conservation campaign.

With support from the Department of Conservation this is an adventure that fosters conscious discussion and environmental upskilling; a valuable resource for New Zealand classrooms.

Plastic Bottle Kayak co team leader Florence Reynolds (22) says; "This expedition is about proving that creativity, innovation and collaboration are the better option. Our business-as-usual approach is destroying our future. If a group of youth can run an adventure that seems impossible and uses waste without generating any, then we are surely able to make easy changes in our personal lives, communities, and political arenas to make sure we have a liveable world for our generation and the next."

Working in collaboration with sustainability and education experts to design lessons that work with the current school curriculum, for the very first time the Plastic Bottle Kayak team will be bringing the adventure to kiwis everywhere - from the classroom to the couch. Kiwi kids will have the chance to be a part of each stage of the adventure, from writing messages to go inside the plastic bottles and helping to name the kayaks, to video interaction with the crew during the journey while they learn about topics from the design process, to marine ecology and sustainability and social enterprise in the classroom. Following the expedition, students will be challenged to apply what they have learned and undertake environmental actions within their schools or communities and access support from the youth leaders on the expedition that are in their region.

This year the Plastic Bottle Kayak team are seeking help from the public to make the expedition a reality, raising funds through a Pledgeme campaign to build the kayaks, bring the expedition to life, and to deliver a successful educational outreach programme.

Facing the consequences from decades of plastic pollution we are now tasked with making a societal change before the situation becomes critical. It is believed over 100,000 marine mammals and one million seabirds die each year from ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic, a harsh reality fuelled by the fast paced society we live in.

Florence says, "Paddling through the sea in recycled kayaks is going to be hard. Having a positive impact on the world doesn't have to be."

Schools interested in signing up for the education programme can visit for further information.

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