Environment-conscious students from New City College Hackney took their campaign against plastic waste to the Houses of Parliament – where they met their local MP to discuss what more can be done to tackle the issue.
The group of nine students are all part of the My World My Home enrichment programme run by Friends of the Earth in partnership with Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK), at the college in Falkirk Street, Hoxton.
After meeting Apsana Begum, Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, and challenging her on plastic waste and environmental law, the students were delighted that she agreed to support their campaign by writing to the Environment Minister to ask for ambitious plastic waste reduction in the Environment Act.
After the discussion and a Q&A session, the students had a brief tour of the Houses of Parliament and Portcullis House.
Laura McFarlane-Shopes of Friends of the Earth said: “The students were a little nervous as it was their first time in Parliament and meeting with a politician. But they showed great courage in asking incisive questions and were able to feel proud of what they achieved. This was especially the case for ESOL student Kulsoom, who chaired the meeting. It was her first time in that role in such an important meeting, and was a great confidence boost both for her English language skills and feeling her new-found power as a campaigner.”
SEND student Shohid Ahmed, NCC Hackney’s Student Union Environmental Officer, who initiated the campaign by writing to the MP on behalf of the group, said: “We want to protect the planet but plastic pollution and waste are making things worse. Plastic is dangerous for the world. Animals are dying in the sea because of plastic waste and it’s bad for our health.”
He added that he was nervous to meet the MP but excited about the visit to Parliament. “It was a great experience and helped a lot with my confidence. It was good to share ideas and work together with the other students as a team.”
Through the My World My Home programme, the students have taken part in workshops and were inspired by a trip to an exhibition on waste at London’s Design Museum.
Friends of the Earth Campaign Coach, Jamien, who was at the Parliament visit with the students, said: “Seeing these young people passionately engaging in discussion with their local MP was incredibly powerful and inspiring. I hope to get involved in any future work they undertake – they are truly amazing young people!”