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Save the Med, 2024! | International Teaching Magazine


The Changemakers Project

 Jasmine Spavieri looks at how an NGO based in Mallorca is galvanizing local school and community groups to take action that will “Save the Med”!

 Who we are and what we do

Save the Med Foundation is a marine regeneration NGO based in Mallorca. It’s composed of a diverse team of scientists, conservationists and educators, united in a common visual for environmental justice and a healthy Mediterranean Sea. Save the Med’s educational program raises awareness about the impact humans can have on the environment while focusing on real-world solutions. The objective is to foster a generation of proactive, eco-conscious citizens, invested in the future.

Now in its 7th official edition, the Changemakers Project is run with the collaboration and sponsorship of Fundación Occident. The project is all about environmental awareness and action. At the start of the school year, Save the Med educators travel to schools all over Mallorca to engage young students, aged 14 to 18. They set a very specific challenge: form a team and come up with ideas and actions that reduce the overconsumption of single-use plastic. The challenge is not simple and inspires students to look beyond the usual “band-aid solutions”, such as picking up trash or promoting recycling. Students are encouraged to think about real changes in behaviour that prevent the creation of plastic waste at the source.

A difficult subject 

Plastic pollution can be a heavy subject to discuss with young teenagers, who are already saturated with doom and gloom news about the environment. What we try to do with Changemakers is firstly, to explain that the responsibility is shared between all of us: from individuals to businesses to governments. Second, we want to inspire collaborative action. When we act to problem solve together, as a team, we feel empowered and connected.

Over 1,000 students have now participated in the project, and they have come up with a variety of amazing and creative ideas. These include mobile apps that help shoppers reduce plastic as they shop, green systems that distribute packaging-free food, social initiatives to battle fast-fashion and campaigns to end the greenwashing of products.

Marine science expeditions

At the end of the year, a panel of expert judges from Save the Med and other similar NGOs come together to view the different projects submitted by the students, looking at impact, creativity, innovation, effort and teamwork.

Top selected projects are rewarded with marine science excursions and expeditions with Save the Med professionals, giving students the opportunity to live a day in the life of a marine biologist / underwater photographer / explorer. In previous years, Changemakers students have joined Save the Med for weeklong excursions at sea, where they got to become part of a real-life expedition crew, monitoring wildlife and learning techniques in marine science. Activities on-board involve a microplastic analysis of surface water and observation of local wildlife, including dolphins, whales, turtles, seabirds and tuna. Furthermore, students are active participants in day-to-day duties of running the ship, such as cooking, cleaning and navigation.

The educational benefits of being at sea go beyond anything students can learn in the classroom. They learn to connect with nature in a purposeful way, as well as taking on the responsibilities of working as a team. They also witness the impact plastic can have on the environment first-hand, retrieving plastic waste from the sea and analyzing it on-board.

Last year, Tupa Rangel, from Save the Med’s Plastic Pollution Reduction project, engaged the students in an in-depth debate about our current throwaway culture and consumption patterns. Students discussed solutions to reduce and prevent waste generation through real community action and focused on what it truly means to be responsible consumers.

Citizens of the planet

At the age of 14 to 18, students are beginning to think about their next steps in life.  The Changemakers Project helps to introduce students to different career paths (both at sea and on land) and ways to relate to the world. Importantly, it helps young adults think more critically about how actions can have an impact on the planet, both in a negative and positive way.

According to one of our recent Changemakers, Toni:

My favourite part was being able to share my ideas and being listened to by other people, including experts and professionals while learning from them. The fact that our ideas have been considered and valued, that’s the best part of it.

For younger kids, starting at age eight, Save the Med offers a program called Dos Manos whereby classrooms and teachers engage in a hands-on citizen-science activity.

This involves the collection, categorisation and analysis of macroplastics and microplastics on the beach, followed by a brand audit. Based on the data collected, students analyse their results and draw conclusions about the most commonly found plastic items in their local environment.



Regenerating the Mediterranean Sea

These education programs are part of Save the Med’s ambitious strategy to help build informed and conscious communities that are emotionally connected with the natural world that surrounds them. This extends beyond schools and reaches out to citizens living in Marine Protected Areas and biodiversity hotspots of the island. Save the Med has launched “Best Practice” campaigns to raise awareness of destructive ecological practices, such as anchoring on seagrass. It also organizes “Citizen-led governance” forums, at which environmental issues are brought to the table and discussed by local communities, resulting in positive actions that help mitigate environmental threats.

When it comes to plastic reduction, Save the Med’s most successful project has been the “Plastic-Free Balearics” certification, created in conjunction with NGOs from the Balearic Islands. It helps businesses in the hospitality industry reduce their plastic footprint by providing low impact alternatives to single-use plastics. To date, the project has prevented 37,600 kgs of plastic from being used and disposed of.


Jasmine Spavieri is the

Find out more about Save the Med projects here:                              https://www.savethemed.org/en/


Contact: info@savethemed.org

Instagram: @savethemedfoundation

Facebook: Save the Med Foundation

YouTube videos:


All images and links kindly provided by Jasmine and Save the Med Foundation.





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