Since a very young age I have been fascinated by the natural environment and have adored all living things. In more recent times I have set my path towards becoming a marine conservationist but I realised that the time to act is now. After influencing my family to go plastic-free and to live more sustainably I wanted to share our discoveries and the motivation to do this with the wider public.
Early in 2018, an accumulation of ideas led to the creation of my marine conservation campaign, Devotion to Ocean. My aim: to give people the motivation to change their lives to make a difference. To unite people in contributing to the solution, not the destruction of our earth. It started with a conversation on a sofa and has now directly educated over 600 people about marine pollution and sustainability together with Instagram following of over 2300.
I believe that education is a force to be reckoned with. I believe the power of people can change the world, especially if we listen to the youth. Teaching people that being environmentally friendly can be fun, adventurous, healthy and achievable is key to seeing change. Everyone in our fast moving society seems to think that the problem should be solved by other people. It doesn’t matter who, as long as it’s not them. Countless times I have heard; “but the government needs to change first” or something similar. The world’s alarm bell is ringing. We have no time to wait for anyone else to change. The time is now, and it starts with every single one of us. People need, first to care and then to know how to act on that. I want to empower everyone to make a difference. Each one of us has the power within us to speak out.
My aim is to give people the reason. To give people the faith that voicing their opinions will make a difference. It is the public who drive the consumerism of the world, and so it is us who make the decisions of which products are successful. It is us who hold the power to phase out harmful items- those containing palm oil or covered in plastic packaging.
I began my project in my school meeting with the headmaster and catering to talk about reducing plastic use, and giving an assembly to the whole school about our reasons and our plans. This has led to a school shop selling re-usable and plastic free products, an Ecobricks project turning plastic bottles into building structures and a significant reduction of single use plastic in the school. It has also shown me how reluctant people are to change which has taught me to be patient and to find ways to address concerns and to influence habits and opinions. There are some however, who share the same passions and objectives and who have supported me through thick and thin along the way. When teachers come up to me and excitedly tell me about their latest efforts to reduce the plastic they use, or how they’re getting solar panels installed, or cycling to work instead of driving, that makes it worth it. My heart is warmed when people tell me what a wonderful thing I am doing, how I have achieved so much already. My bursar once said to me, “everything that the school has achieved is down to you, you have made people change. The world needs more Amy Brays”. It is of course rewarding to have my efforts noticed, but more so that people are taking change into their own hands. A member of staff at my school who works in admissions informed me of a scholarship presentation that a young girl gave to her earlier this year. It was about plastic. When asked why she chose this topic, she declared, “Amy Bray came into my school to teach us about plastic pollution and she converted me!”. Working with young people will never fail to inspire me.
After creating a collection of activities for young people, tailored to teach, inspire and provoke thought, I made an interactive education programme for youth groups. I spent a day delivering this to a junior school and by the end of the day, every child knew how they could help reduce plastic pollution. I have taken this further and taught scouts and explorers, pupils and staff. After each programme I ask people to provide their own pledge in the form of green and blue hearts. On each heart, a person writes a promise to the ocean.
Through Another Weigh, a zero waste shop, I have established a physical base for my conservation charity, Another Way. This base is an education centre, giving local people the opportunity to learn, to engage and to act on their desire to help the environment. Through this and active educational talks and courses we hope to unite people and organisations in striving to change the wasteful and harmful way in which society functions. To do this, we will create and support a network of volunteers to run my education programmes and to inspire people to behavioural change.
At the end of my last awareness session, I asked a group of explorer scouts who would be prepared to make changes in their everyday lives to help our wonderful environment. Every single person raised their hand. I was genuinely stunned. Personal engagement and education is truly the key to behavioural change.
Founder, Another Way