In the following pages, you will find some exerpts of the children’s book I both wrote and illustrated for my dissertation, where I chose to focus on the education of plastic waste for children.
Title: The Disturbing Story of My Life (written by a plastic straw)
Duration: 6 months
Royal College of Art - 2019
Tutors: Richard Atkinson
On the book
The book relates the story of a plastic straw that ends up in a children's stomach. Mike, the straw, has a dream to become a recycled kite one day, and in the stomach, he finds some friends who help him out and to whom he explains his long journey.
When I first decided to write an illustrated book for children, I definitely was not expecting this experience. I remember it being a really enriching experience, where I learn so much much that what I expected. I knew when I started that one of my main motivations was to 1, have fun with it, and 2, add something to this massive issue. Although fun, it was incredibly challenging to understand and synthesize such a dense topic to a level that I could then relay in a simple, fun, and accurate way.
I was lucky enough to get feedback from Dr. Arturo Castillo Castillo, as he helped me verify and validate the facts I presented in my story. I also looked into the work of Maria Ghiso, who served as the manager of the Rainforest Alliance’s education program, as she had previously spearheaded the effort to educate children on the complex topic of climate change. In order to effectively address such a grim topic to children, she emphasized the importance of keeping a positive and hopeful tone in all communication. I believe I was successful in this effort, using plot development between characters to lighten the mood between Mike’s various stories. In the end, I was able to create a balance between fun and education, combining facts and fiction.
The book was never meant to be a book that would teach children about all of the intricacies of plastic pollution, but rather be a starting point to a greater conversation. I want to plant a seed in them so that they can develop this thinking for themselves and grow with it, to eventually make a greater impact.
I hope that children will enjoy and engage with the characters, feel sympathy towards them, but, most importantly, I want them to understand how a simple act, such as using a plastic straw, can have such a huge impact on both the environment and on ourselves.
What is NEXT
Looking into the future, I believe this project is something I would really like to continue working on. I would love to see how children react to the book and in what ways it can influence their relationship with plastics.
I feel a responsibility, not only as a designer, but as a young human being to be a part of the solution, and spread my new-found knowledge as much as I can. I hope this book helps future generations to understand the magnitude of the problem and I hope it inspires and encourages them to join the movement. I really wish similar educational tools were available when I was a kid, but it’s not too late to save our home, Planet Earth.