Meet The 12-Year-Old Aussie Pollution Warrior Taking On The World

Change Maker Molly Steer may be young but she’s telling Aussies to clean up their act one straw at a time…

Dell and 10 Play are inspiring Australia to be an everyday change maker, by sharing the inspiring stories of Change Makers at work across Australia and celebrating the people who are doing the little things to make a big impact. Because we know that every little thing is everything.

Molly Steer is 12 years old, but in a world of Greta Thunberg and Malala, she’s part of a new generation of young people who want to make a real change in the world.

You see, Molly is a pollution activist -- crusading for the banning of single-use plastics with her website where she asks visitors to take the pledge to stop using plastic straws at work or at school and gives suggestions on how to make changes that matter.

And it’s working -- last month, more than 1 million people across the world had engaged with the #StrawNoMore project.

Image Credit: Straw No More Project

Inspired after seeing the movie A Plastic Ocean when she was nine, Molly wanted to stop her school -- and others -- from polluting the world with plastic straws. The environmental warrior passionately spoke at her school assembly, then at more schools, inspiring hundreds of schoolchildren to bin plastic. Now, 1400 school tuckshops have taken action, banning the use of disposable plastic straws.

Molly gave her first TED talk when she was nine years old. And last week, the eco powerhouse was at the Plastics Summit at Parliament House, speaking to the Government about ways to halt single use plastics.

10 daily spoke to Molly about her eco mission, and how we can help rid the planet of single use plastic.

Molly, how did you come up with the idea of trying to get rid of straws?

“Until A Plastic Ocean, I didn’t know anything about plastic pollution. What I saw really shocked me. At the end of that movie, I knew that I wasn’t able to forget what I had learned. So I came home and did some googling. I couldn’t understand why more people weren’t doing something about this. So I decided if they weren’t, I would.”

What are you hoping to achieve -- no single use plastic at all?

“Yeah. Basically. To get rid of all single use plastics would be awesome. I know that won’t be easy, but mum says that nothing worthwhile is easy. So I guess I’m just going to keep going.”

Image Credit: Getty

You are really getting the message to those who matter, aren’t you?

“I was at Parliament House earlier this week for the Plastics Summit that the Government put on.

There were about 200 groups who are leading the way in the field of plastic pollution awareness. It’s times like this that I think it’s weird that people want to hear what I have to say -- I’m just a kid. But It seems so simple to me, and I don’t know why it’s taking the adults so long to make decisions. Plastic pollution is bad. Surely everyone must know that by now. So, I think its’s crazy that we are having to fight to get people to stop polluting the oceans.”

You aren’t doing this all by yourself now. You have helpers who you call “Strawbassadors” – what do they do?

“We have about 20 kids around the country who are Strawbassadors -- they’re kids just like me, who make a really big effort to talk to schools and cafes and businesses in their own town and try to stop the use of single use plastics straws.

“They get copies of all the emails and letters I have sent, and all the speeches I have done, and we encourage them to set up meetings with their own Mayor, or Councillors to try to create change. They are awesome and there’s no way Straw No More could have done all this without the help of some really cool Strawbassadors.

You’re a very inspiring 12-year-old! What do your parents think of all this?

“Mum and Dad have been really supportive. Sometimes it means we miss out on doing things because I have to give a speech somewhere or someone wants to interview me, but that’s what this whole campaign has been about. Just talking to people. I’m not an expert or a scientist and there are so many other people who know so much more than I do, but I guess I’ve been able to talk to kids about it, so we increase the awareness that way. People think that kids aren’t really interested in this stuff, and we shouldn’t be involved in the discussions, but I don’t agree. I think we absolutely should be!”

What’s next?

“Oh wow -- honestly I don’t know. This whole three years has been a whirlwind, and we have never really known what is next. Mum always says that you mostly only regret the things you don’t do. So that means I say yes to lots of opportunities because you never know where it will take you.”

Do you have a message for the 10 daily audience -- what do you want to tell them?

“One thing I tell all the kids I meet is to “Be the Mosquito”. It’s a saying from a lady I met once when I was confused wondering why people were listening to me. I mean, I was just a kid and adults were asking me questions. So this lady said “Be The Mosquito”. She said that mosquitos are only small, but have you ever tried to ignore one when it’s buzzing around your head? “So now I tell all the kids I meet, and all our Strawbassadors to ‘be the mosquito’. Yes, we may only be kids and we may only be small, but we need to keep buzzing. Keep talking, keep doing and basically be annoying. Because the future belongs to us kids and our ideas.”