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Interview for STEP - Yvette van den Brand (Netherlands)

Campaigner and project coordinator Youth at Plastic Soup Foundation

How do you, as an individual, participate in the life of your community?

I work as a campaigner for the Plastic Soup Foundation so everyday I am staying up to date of all events and things happening around plastic pollution. I sign most petitions of which I believe can create change and support sustainable lifestyles. I talk about it with my friends and family and try to get them involved in using less plastic.

Which environmental topic interests you the most and in which way(s) do you take action for it?

Plastic pollution in the ocean, sustainable fishing, climate change, circular economy. I try to change my own habits to contribute at least as possible to these issues, for example. I don’t eat fish, don’t litter and try to reduce my plastic footprint. I promote sustainable solutions as much as possible in my friendship groups.

Are you familiar with the topic of e-participation? For which reason(s) would you see e-participation useful for young people? 

I am not familiar with it, but I do think the youth can be best reached through technology. In the Netherlands for example an application has emerged (Kamergotchi) where Dutch politicians can be fed and played with through the ‘Tamagotchi’ principles. It already is a big hit for teenagers and gets them more involved in politics. I think the ‘fun part’ should be a very important key point for such e-participation events.

To what extent are the initiatives of Plastic Soup Foundation (such as TrashHunters or Beat the Microbead) forms of youth participation? Could you tell us about how your initiatives have been impacting decision-making processes at environmental level?

Beat the Microbead was primarily focused on middle-aged women, but has proven to be an interesting topic for high schools. It has been featured in online learning-classes as it is an easy tool to get youth involved in creating their own change. The issue of microbeads in cosmetics has been discussed in governments and political parties world-wide and are being banned in some countries as a result. Trash Hunters is an important tool to map litter and collect data. It gives youth an insight of why and what kind of litter is most prevalent and hands them opinions about deposit scheme packaging. We think it’s most impactful to let teenagers find out for themselves where the problem is and what can be done about it. 

Any last inspiring word for our readers?

If you think something small can’t make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito!