How can one person change the world?

We welcomed students from Hans Price Academy and Churchill Academy to Sidcot last week to learn how they can personally change the world and make a difference to the environment. Environmental activist, campaigner and documentary film-maker Nicola Peel told students of her life’s work to clean up oil spills in the Amazon, working to develop clean water solutions and her mission to raise awareness of the plight of the indigenous people.

Sidcot student Honor Turner was shocked to learn that some of the world’s largest oil spills happen in the Amazon rainforest and go unreported. She said: “I learnt that many major brands have contributed to the problems that are caused by the fuel and palm oil industry in the Amazon. Nicola told us to imagine that for every bottle of drinking water we buy that a third of its content is oil – this is how much it takes to make the plastic bottle.”

“The lecture made me really consider what I buy and to avoid palm oil products and companies which are contributing to oil spills and deforestation.”

Nicola described how she had worked with indigenous people in the Amazon to develop an innovative way of clearing oil spills using mushrooms to break down the pollutant. She also told students that she had lived waste-free for a whole year – recycling, composting and using her unwanted plastic to fill plastic bottles which she will use as bricks to build an environmentally-friendly structure. On a larger scale, Nicola has worked in Ecuador to clear entire communities of plastic rubbish, using plastic bottle bricks she has created from waste to build health centres, school buildings and a café. James Eyermann in Year 12 said that the lecture made him think about things he had not considered before. He explained: “This is not something that we are always taught in school - I didn’t know how much the Amazon is affected or about the damage that is caused to so many lives.”

There is a programme of fascinating speakers and workshops planned over the year with key issues for students to discuss and debate including homelessness, campaigning for peace, the Holocaust and more on the environment. If you or anyone you know would be interested in talking to students about key moral or ethical issues at a ‘talking lunch’ please email.

We would be particularly interested in hearing from someone working in the medical or legal professions to join us in the Spring Term.


Photograph: Nicola Peek & Philip Perkins, Head of Humanities Faculty

Independent day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 3 - 18 in Somerset