Young People are Unstoppable

David Chapoloko from the UNA-National Capital Area chapter participated in the Virtual UN Youth Climate Summit Blogger Fellowship. He writes about his personal initiative to reduce plastic waste and how it intersects with the message that Greta Thunberg delivered at the Summit.

During the UN Youth Climate Summit, I was struck by the opening remarks of the sixteen years old Greta Thunberg. Her message: Youth are united and they are unstoppable.

These were words that followed a global youth strike Greta led on Friday, September 20th that BBC ranked as the greatest climate strike in history.

The whole series of events connected me to the experiences I have personally had in the climate activist work I have initiated in my home country of Zambia. It all started as a dream; I wanted a way that I could make my hometown of Luanshya into a plastic and litter free zone, and I wanted to explore how I could turn plastics trash into valuables that people can buy.

I started a project called “Art 4 Climate Zambia,” where I shared the dream with a few others and we could go out, pick up plastic litter and use the plastic litter to make sculptures. Just one sculpture could engulf up to 23 kg of plastic waste.

Before I knew it, a lot of people got interested we started growing in numbers. It erupted into a campaign called ‘Keep Luanshya a Plastic Litter Free Zone’. People joined me in numbers and I received support from the area’s Member of Parliament. We started collaborating efforts with the local government authority.

Today, my social enterprise has grown. We are producing different sculptures out of plastic. As the campaign has grown, there has been significant change seen all over the town in terms of people’s behavior and the general town cleanliness.

My story, together with Greta’s, is evidence that young people can have an influence. When we use that influence for the good of the society, we can achieve things greater than we can imagine.

When we are united towards a common cause we are unstoppable.