Teens against stream
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.
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.