“DO NOT WASTE”. This was the chief sentiment expressed by David Attenborough at the Richmond Borough Youth Climate Summit held on October 16th. Though simple, this little phrase carries such weight as it opens up possibilities of a more positive future for all. 

Schools from around the Richmond Borough assembled at York House to discuss issues faced by global communities as a result of climate change, and to offer solutions for these problems on a local scale. Attendees were greeted by many stalls that all had their own aims to educate people on the climate whilst providing products or services to help them lead greener lifestyles. Stalls varied greatly in their business, in trying to reduce plastic and air pollution to quick quizzes about tube stations to encourage public transport, to dairy free milkshakes served in vegetable based compostable cups. Frustratingly, when asked about the rarity of these ‘green plastics’ in manufacture, the stall owner suggested that it was to do with pricing, as a healthy future comes at a sickeningly small but apparently unworthy price to companies. 

Interestingly, a stall called ‘City to Sea’ was advertising the app “Refill”, encouraging users to join the #RefillRevolution to reduce plastic waste by informing app users of the location of the nearest food outlets giving free water refills. This means that some of the 7.7 billion single use plastic bottles can be saved each year from going to landfills and wreaking havoc in global ecosystems. Similarly, with menstrual products, people are being urged to ditch plastic for reusable alternatives, as plastic sanitary items take 500-800 years to decompose. 

Students then assembled to discuss how they could mitigate and prevent further climate change, such as installing smart meters to save energy. This idea correlates with Attenborough’s chief sentiment, as he urges people to only take what they need from the environment. In the Q and A session with Attenborough further points were raised, such as the rapid decline of coral reefs during his naturalist career, and the importance of reducing meat consumption, especially beef. 

To end the Summit, students were played the Greta Thunberg remix of Fatboy Slim’s ‘Right here, Right now’ to emphasise the urgency of the situation whilst not being too pessimistic about the challenges ahead, as changes have to be made ‘right here, right now’ to secure a future for anthropocene.