Lilly Platt, the Netherlands’ most persistent climate striker

Lilly Platt, the Netherlands’ most persistent climate striker

‘If I don’t do it, who will?’
At the age of 11, Lilly Platt has achieved more than most adults. She is among the top 100 influencers in tackling plastic contamination, is known internationally as a climate activist and has almost 4,000 followers on Facebook and 7,700 on Twitter. When she was just seven years old she started ‘Lilly’s Plastic Pickup’ with the aim of making the world plastic-free. When asked about her biggest dream she doesn’t have to think for a second: “I want the whole world to listen to us and especially all of the politicians.”

By ‘us’ she means all young people worldwide who go on strike for the climate. She does this herself every Friday from 9.00 to 10.00 in front of the town hall in her home town of Zeist. The message on her protest sign reads: There is no Planet B. “We only have one planet and that’s the Earth,” she says unequivocally. “If we don’t do something for planet A now, there’s no future for us.” And according to Lilly, you don’t have to be an adult to do your bit. On the contrary. “Children must have the right for their voices to be heard,” she says. “It’s about our future. We have to combat climate change with one voice.”

‘It’s not truancy, it’s fighting for our future. And that’s a very serious business’

Back to the future
While tens of thousands of schoolchildren go on strike and take to the streets of neighbouring countries every week, it remains remarkably quiet in the Netherlands. “That’s down to the word ‘truancy’,” thinks the half-British, half-Dutch Lilly. “The schools here are very strict on that and young people think it’s not allowed. But it is allowed if your parents are okay with it. It’s not truancy either, which you do for fun, but fighting for our future. And that’s a very serious business. Because why would you bother going to school if you had no future?”

That’s why Lilly is standing firm, supported by her parents and grandfather. “If I don’t do it, who will? I live in a world in which animal species are becoming extinct every day. I live in a world in which every litre of water contains plastic and every cloud contains CO2 emissions. We can’t go ‘back to the future’, that was in the Eighties. When I met Greta Thunberg on my third school strike, I asked her what was the worst contributor to climate change: CO2, plastic or deforestation. All three, she said. It’s about ‘the peak of power’ in which everything comes together.” Is it still possible to save the Earth? “Yes, but we have to start acting now.”

‘You know, every time you clean up one piece of plastic, you save an animal’s life’

Lillys Plastic Pickup
Lilly took her first step in 2015. Since then, she’s been going out  every day with a grabber to collect litter. The reason was a walk to the McDonald’s with her grandfather, a geologist. “I wasn’t very good at counting in Dutch at the time,” says Lilly. “We practiced by counting all the pieces of plastic on the ground. It was 91 in less than 20 minutes! My grandfather then told me that anything on the ground ends up in the ocean. It might take a day, a week, maybe a month. I thought that was bad news for everyone. I wanted to do something about it and that’s how Lilly’s Plastic Pickup started. You know, every time you clean up one piece of plastic, you save an animal’s life. A lot of people don’t think about that.”

On the map
Lilly’s litter clean-up campaigns have put her on the map internationally. She is now youth ambassador for the Plastic Pollution Coalition, World Cleanup Day, HOW Global, The Ship of Tolerance London 2019 and YouthMundus. She met the famous anthropologist and chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall in London – “it turned out that my grandfather and Jane had the same friend in Tanzania” – and the American reggae artist Ras Midas made a radio commercial for her. In April 2018, she spoke at the Plastic Whale Conference in Norway, in February 2019 at a maritime conference in Glasgow, Scotland, and last summer she was invited to a meeting for the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp in Vancouver, Canada. During the opening programme of the Creativity World Forum, Lilly will tell her story as a young climate striker and champion of her ideal. “Exactly what I’m going to do is still a surprise,” she says.

Meet Lilly during CWF2019!

We are using cookies on our website

Please confirm, if you accept our tracking cookies. You can also decline the tracking, so you can continue to visit our website without any data sent to third party services. More information can be found in our privacy statement.