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Harmony’s war on plastic

Harmony Perrie shows off her handmade reusable bag. Her mother Amber McEwan, and younger brother Miles Perrie watch on. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN

 

There’s a new club in Wairarapa, and everyone is invited.

 

EMILY NORMAN

Harmony Perrie is a whirlwind of a child.

With a passion for the environment matched possibly to no other 7-year-old in the region, she has started a club to help reduce plastic in the ocean.

Harmony’s idea to create The Plastic Club all started when she recently watched the 2016 documentary ‘A Plastic Ocean’, a film exposing how plastics, once they enter the oceans, break up into small particulates that enter the food chain where they attract toxins like a magnet.

The documentary shows that once toxins are stored in seafood’s fatty tissues, they are eventually consumed by people.

“Mum, can you take this so I can run around and look for plastic?” Harmony asked, mid-interview, handing over a reusable bag to her mother Amber McEwan before running through Masterton Town Square scouting for litter.

She had already collected a plastic cookie wrapper upon arrival at the town square, using it as an example of plastic that could “end its journey in fish’s tummies”.

“Even non-single use plastic is bad because it turns into micro plastic,” she explained.

“That’s when pieces of plastic break up into tiny plankton sized pieces of plastic.

“In the middle of the Pacific Ocean there is more plastic than plankton.”

She said creating The Plastic Club would “help stop the plastic issue” because more people would be aware of “how much plastic there is in the ocean and how bad it is for the sea creatures”.

“The Plastic Club is to help reduce plastic in the ocean, so that less animals eat it,” Harmony said.

The Plastic Club’s website, theplasticclub.weebly.com, shares what Harmony has been doing to use less plastic, including buying milo in a tin instead of the plastic bag, saying “no thank you” to plastic bags, and using glass storage containers instead of plastic zip-lock bags.

The website also details Harmony’s ‘Plastic Walks’ where she collects rubbish around the region.

When asked how many plastic walks she had done, she said it was “too many to remember”.

The 7-year-old made headlines last year because of her “unschooling” experience, an educational philosophy which allows children to learn through their natural life experiences.

Similar to home-schooled children, Harmony’s classroom is her house: with blocks, pictures and puzzle pieces strewn through the playroom, and the kids’ clothes splattered in paint, her learning environment is clearly a hive of activity.

Unlike home-schooling, however, unschooled pupils don’t sit down for lessons, instead absorbing information through play, household responsibilities, personal interests and social interaction.

“I never went to school. I go to ‘cool school’,” Harmony said.

Harmony started The Plastic Club earlier this month and already has several members who have joined, including a lady from Colarado, and a couple from Nelson.

To join The Plastic Club and support Harmony’s vision, visit theplasticclub.weebly.com.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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