What do you want the world to look like in 10 years?
 

Saving our seas from plastic

Professor Richard Thompson OBE

We need to find smarter ways to use our plastics. At the moment, the solution isn't just in the hands of the consumer. The challenge is stimulating changes in design and people's behaviour, while ensuring the environmental science checks and balances actually makes things better, without any unintended consequences.

For example, the research we did with microbeads, where we showed a single container of cosmetics could contain nearly 3 million microplastic particles, that work informed the ban of microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products in the UK in 2018.

We're now seeing legislation in other countries too. But it's 50 years since the patent was filed on the use of small bits of plastic in cosmetics. Did nobody in the industry ever ask the question, 'where are all these pieces going?'

Looking forward, more thorough extended producer responsibility could really help to see off some of the problems before they arise.

My mission is to further our understanding of the impacts of litter on the environment and society, and perhaps even more importantly to identify the solutions and pathways necessary to achieve them.

 

Influencing change for a greener world

Alice Mosley, BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare student

I hope we have a greener world. To see more reforestation and investment in renewable energies. To take more steps towards a cleaner Earth.

I want to work in a position that combines animal behaviour with conservation. I want to use the understanding of the way animals behave to improve the relationship they have with society.

In Uganda, we trekked through beautiful landscapes to find the last remaining silverback mountain gorillas. This experience of seeing large, wild animals in their natural habitat was truly amazing. When you look them in the eyes in the wild, it's very different to looking at an animal in a zoo. You realise this is how the world is really meant to be.

I want to be a part of something bigger than myself and make a positive change for the entire planet. For us to live more harmoniously with nature, and to have a reduced effect on the biodiversity that exists in the world.

I campaigned at the Plymouth Global Climate Strike and it was exciting being part of one voice. It finally feels like we are being heard. I hope this momentum continues.

 

Conserving our environment

Ben Ellett, BSc (Hons) Environmental Science student

Burning fossil fuels emits a number of air pollutants that are harmful to both the environment and to our health.

In an ideal world, fossil fuels would be completely driven out of use and we would rely as much as possible on renewable energy.

Renewable energy resources, which include wind, solar and tidal, hold great potential for reducing the threat of climate change. They help decrease greenhouse gas emissions and, due to the fact that they can be replenished, alleviate the risk of exhausting the world's fossil fuel supply.

A world powered by renewable energy will be a healthier world for us and all the millions of species we share it with.

I would love to help people understand our problems and educate them to make a real difference to environments all over the world.

 

Enhancing lives with social technology

Estilla Hefter, MEng (Hons) Robotics student

Everyone is entitled to a good quality of life. We shouldn't have people without an education.

It is really important that everybody has someone to talk to, that they’re not alone. With my experience of a care home setting, people may be warm, well fed and have sufficient money, but their social life could be better. Sometimes this leads to depression and further ill health, which possibly could be avoided if we all looked after our elders, as they deserve to be.

Although it is improving, hopefully there are no differences between a man and woman doing the same role. Not just in the robotics industry, but in any field, whether in engineering or nursing. I want an equality of pay and respect, no matter your gender and role.

As a young woman, I've been talked down to multiple times, even if I have said the correct things. I could easily be still studying economics if I didn’t have the courage to stick to my passion and return to robotics. I didn’t listen to that person who said I couldn’t succeed in this industry. I followed my heart.

I want every girl to be able to follow their dream and be supported and encouraged to reach it. I had to challenge this perception, but this perception should never exist in the first place.

 

Inspiring the next generation

Sophie Shaw, BEd Primary (Maths Specialism) student

I want teachers to continue to have the opportunity to do what they are best at. To teach and to inspire children.

Any developments in funding and technology needs to support and keep teachers in the classroom. We need to ensure we have adequate resources for every child – from teaching materials, to teaching assistants. That every child has the best possible opportunity to learn, and the platform to reach their full potential.

Whether aspiring to be a maths teacher, or a professional dancer, a positive school experience is imperative.

 

Engineering a sustainable future

Conner Kearey, MEng (Hons) Civil Engineering student

In 10 years’ time, I want to see a world without waste. A world where humans manage to reuse or recycle the majority of our waste and remove our reliance on single-use products. 

It is on us to compromise on our needs now, so we can meet those of the future.

This will preserve our finite natural resources and protect the environment.

 

What do you want the world to look like in 10 years?

We have been wondering.

This is one of 7 questions answered by a range of thinkers, doers and inspirations from across our community of pioneering students, academic staff and researchers at Plymouth.

Behind every student, inspiring lecturer, and game-changing researcher, is a personal passion. Discover what motivates our #PlymouthPioneers.

What would your answers be?