Teens against stream

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

A group of eco-con­scious youth lead­ers has found a fresh ap­proach to re­cy­cling some of the thou­sands of plas­tic bot­tles dis­carded by Auck­lan­ders.

The 16-strong team pad­dled 100 kilo­me­tres down the Whanganui River on four kayaks made from 3000 plas­tic bot­tles to bring home one mes­sage on May 15.

‘‘We want ev­ery­one to think twice about what they buy,’’ cen­tral Auck­land stu­dent Florence Reynolds says.

‘‘It’s ridicu­lous that plas­tic is made up of non-re­new­able re­sources to be used once and thrown away only to be­come de­bris in the wa­ter.’’

Ms Reynolds has been liv­ing with­out pur­chas­ing plas­tic since Jan­uary.

Prod­ucts pack­aged us­ing sin­gleuse plas­tic were banned for the three-day trek.

‘‘Re-us­ing and re­cy­cling is great but you have to do the first step first,’’ she says.

Shruthi Vi­jayaku­mar and I AM Chal­lenge founder Daniel Cul­lum spear­headed the project af­ter a trip to the Ama­zon last year as part of the Mike Horn Pan­gaea Young Ex­plor­ers Pro­gram.

The pair learned some im­por­tant les­sons about en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity while ex­plor­ing some of the world’s most re­mote re­gions, Ms Vi­jayaku­mar says.

They de­cided to take what they learned and ex­plore New Zealand to spread the mes­sage and so the plas­tic bot­tle kayak was born.

Youth lead­ers from across the coun­try soon jumped on board to make up the team.

‘‘We re­ally see the kayak jour­ney as a tool to bring to­gether young peo­ple from across New Zealand and get them in­spired,’’ Ms Vi­jayaku­mar says.

Two lead de­sign­ers, in­clud­ing ar­chi­tec­ture stu­dent Amelia Fa­gence spent two weeks per­fect­ing the fi­nal de­sign.

The stu­dents sourced more than 3000 bot­tles from re­cy­cling bins while a large amount were do­nated which had been re­jected in man­u­fac­tur­ing due to de­fects.

Lo­cally sourced bam­boo and ply­wood com­plete the struc­ture.

Af­ter test runs, the re­main­ing boats took about a day to build.

The team then took to the wa­ter on May 12 in Whaka­horo where they pad­dled eight at a time ac­com­pa­nied by a crew of 10 on sup­port boats car­ry­ing safety gear.

They fin­ished their voy­age in Pipiriki on Tues­day.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Clear mes­sage: Clock­wise from front left; Shruthi Vi­jayaku­mar, Daniel Cul­lum, Amelia Fa­gence and Florence Reynolds, pad­dled 100 kilo­me­tres down the Whanganui River on kayaks made from plas­tic bot­tles.

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