Let´s be plastic free this summer!

June 24 / 2019

Design sprint in Gibraltar

Have you heard about the trash islands or the Great Pacific Garbage patch that floats between Hawaii and California? According to the Ocean Cleanup Project, the patch is 1.6 million square kilometers! The patch formed because of marine pollution accumulating together because of ocean currents.

So, what can we do to prevent the Great Pacific Garbage patch or others from growing? One way is to cut back or eliminate our reliance of plastic goods. (Check out our blog article here).


So, what can we do to prevent the Great Pacific Garbage patch or others from growing? One way is to cut back or eliminate our reliance of plastic goods. (Check out our blog article here).

That´s why when we were invited to host a design sprint with students from primary and secondary schools in Gibraltar on this very subject, we couldn´t have been more excited to see what innovative solutions they would come up with. Working together with the Gibraltar Department of Education and Advanced Leadership Foundation, as well as some amazing student facilitators, (Carmen Anderson, Isabella Baladchino, Kristina Hewitt, Kareina Daswani, Erin Quick, Alexandra Lester, Liam Galliano, Sophie MacDonald, Ella Vatvani, Amy Azzopardi proposed the question “ How can we keep Gibraltar Beaches Plastic Free this Summer?” as a design prompt to more than 50 students participating in the design sprint on May 21.

We started the day at the beach where experts, Dr Darren Fa (Director of Academic Programmes and Research at University of Gibraltar. PHD in Biological Oceanography), and Lewis Stagnetto (marine biologist and member of Nautilus project) gave speeches about how long plastic takes to degrade, if ever. According to Dr Darren Fa, depending on what the object is, plastic takes over 450 years to degrade and many scientists think that it may not even degrade.

Dr. Fa explaining how the unique molecular structure of plastics keeps them from degrading

Mr. Stagnetto and plastic fishing nets he found abandoned on the beach

Students then had the opportunity to ask questions and then investigate the beach and assess the situation before heading back to the University of Gibraltar to start the next part of the design sprint.

Groups investigating the state of the beach

Plastic remains found on the beach

As groups were made up of students from the ages of 7-18, we made mixed-age groups and appointed student facilitators that lead each group through the design thinking methodology. It was amazing to watch how motivating and understanding they all were. Moving through the design process of empathize, define, ideate, prototype, build, each group addressed the problem statement in their own way.

Redefining plastic use

Students then practiced their pitch before giving each group gave a 5 mins presentation to family, teachers, and our panel of judges. All the groups did an excellent job.

Eloise giving some tips on pitching

While all solutions were amazing, two teams proposed two ideas that could be easily implemented in Gibraltar. One, a great publicity campaign starting in the summer using student´s art work. This would also incorporate the other student group´s ideas. Educating people on how we can reduce our plastic use is a great way to create new habits to be plastic free in Gibraltar. Second, a recycle t-shirt bag to take the place of a plastic bag. This would be used in grocery stores as well as available at the beach.

The next steps will be project implementation by the government of Gibraltar. Peaceworx will follow the progress of each team. In July, the teams will present again at the Island Games.

Thanks to all our collaborators and all the students from Notre Dame First School, St Paul’s First School, Governor’s Meadow First School, St Mary’s First School, St Bernard’s First School, St Joseph’s First School, Hebrew Primary School, St Martin’s Special School, Bayside Comprehensive School, Westside Comprehensive School, Gibraltar College of Further Education, Prior Park School, Loreto Convent School

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