Over the weekend of Feb. 22-24, Harker Green Team officers Anvi Banga, Alex Shing and Anthony Shing, all grade 11, and Natasha Yen, grade 10, attended the 2019 Plastic Ocean Pollution Solutions International Youth Summit at the Algalita Ocean Institute in Dana Point, along with their advisors, science teacher Kate Schafer and Spanish teacher Diana Moss.
The Harker team was selected on the basis of its proposal, titled “Buy Better Boba.” The students’ plan addresses the excessive amount of plastic produced by sales of boba milk tea, a popular drink often sold by Harker student clubs to raise funds. The students acquired reusable glass straws with brush cleaners, repurposed glass jars and designed a sticker to create a cup alternative to the single-use plastic cup, lid, straw and wrapper that comes with each purchase of boba tea.
Team members also have been in contact with local boba shops to encourage the use of their cups and to provide bulk dispensers for clubs that use their cups for their fundraisers. They will launch the sale of their repurposed cups during Earth Week in April, which is also their club week.
The conference was attended by 125 students from various parts of the U.S., as well as from countries including Kenya, Tunisia, Canada, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Mexico. Students had the opportunity to learn about each other’s projects, to hear from experts in the field of ocean pollution and to engage in team building activities. Additionally, mentors worked with each team to help them hone the details of their projects and envision ways to extend their projects into the greater community to have a more powerful impact.
“The best part of the conference for me was meeting other students from around the world and hearing about their projects,” said Banga. Added Yen, “Seeing all this creative energy working towards a common goal was inspiring.”
The team also enjoyed being right on the beach at the Algalita Ocean Institute and took a short cruise on the ocean with Captain Charles Moore, author of “Plastic Ocean,” who first discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Harker team was one of three teams selected to present about their project before the entire assembly on the final day of the conference.