Environment Bill

Written evidence submitted by Girlguiding (EB08)

Girlguiding evidence for the Environment Bill

1. About Girlguiding

1.1 Girlguiding is the leading charity for girls and young women in the UK, with over 500,000 members. Thanks to the dedication and support of 100,000 amazing volunteers, we are active in every part of the UK, giving girls and young women a space where they can be themselves, have fun, build brilliant friendships, gain valuable life skills and make a positive difference to their lives and their communities. We build girls’ confidence and raise their aspirations. We give them the chance to discover their full potential and encourage them to be a powerful force for good. We give them a space to have fun. We run Rainbows (5–7 years), Brownies (7–10 years), Guides (10–14 years) and Rangers/ The Senior Section (14– 18 years). Registered Charity No. 306016. www.girlguiding.org.uk

2. Our evidence

2.1 Our submission focuses on evidence from our annual Girls’ Attitudes Survey – the largest survey of girls and young women in the UK and gathers the views and opinions of over 2,000 girls and young women aged 7 to 21, from inside and outside guiding. Since 2009, the survey has built a comprehensive picture of the emerging needs, issues and priorities of girls and young women. Each year the findings build upon those of previous surveys and cover a range of issues affecting girls from education, the environment, health and wellbeing, aspirations and safety on- and off-line.

2.2 Our 2019 Girls’ Attitudes Survey [1] includes data on girls’ views about plastic and the environment. Our research shows that girls and young women are worried about the environment and feel that urgent action needs to be taken to protect it. Increasingly, girls are aware that change needs to be made and are going out of their way to make that happen. Although girls are eager to change their behaviour to help protect the environment, they feel that the government are most responsible for tackling these issues.

2.3 Top environmental issues girls worry about:

· Water and ocean pollution (46%)

· Climate change (46%)

· Plastic pollution (44%)

· Loss of nature and natural habitats (43%)

· Air pollution (30%)

· Deforestation (28%)

2.4 Who girls think are responsible for tackling environmental issues:

· The government (49%)

· Individuals (20%)

· Companies/businesses (19%)

2.5 Education on environment:

· 82% of girls aged 7-10 learn about the environment and what they can do to help but this decreases to 64% for those aged 11-21

· 81% of girls aged 7-10 learn about looking after natural habitats and nature but this decreases to 60% for those aged 11-21

· 79% of girls aged 7-10 say they have opportunities to help the environment, but this decreases to 53% for girls aged 11-21

· 70% of girls aged 7-21 would like to learn more about the environment at school and how they can help

2.6 Actions girls want to see:

· 90% say more should be done to protect natural spaces and the wildlife that live there

· 88% say schools/colleges should be given guidance to help them protect the environment

· 87% say there should be more opportunities to take action in their daily lives to help the environment

· 88% feel its urgent that we all do more to protect the environment

· 87% say schools/colleges should involve pupils in plants that help protect the environment

· 86% say young people should be more involved with decision-makers in conversations on how to tackle environmental issues

· 85% of girls aged 7-21 love being in nature and think its important nature is looked after

· 86% of girls aged 7-21 think young people should be more involved in conversations with decision-makers about how to tackle environmental issues

· 61% of girls aged 7-21 feel pressures to change their behaviour to tackle environmental issues

2.7 Actions girls take/are willing to take to help tackle environmental issues:

· Turn off lights when leaving the room (98%)

· Recycle and re-use more (98%)

· Turn off TVs, computers and plugs when not in use (95%)

· Put on an extra jumper instead of turning the heating on (87%)

· Walk or cycle instead of going by car (86%)

· Buy clothes from ethical retailers (80%)

· Eat less meat (67%)

2.8 Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) research

In 2019, thousands of girls and young women from across the UK told Girlguiding what they thought about littering and how a DRS scheme should work. CHILDWISE - which specialises in research with children and young people - heard from 2,036 children and young people from 7 to 16-years-of-age. Fieldwork took place during September and October 2019. We also consulted with our young members on how to make sure a DRS would be accessible for all young people.

2.9 How plastic littering makes girls feel:

• Worried and upset because of the harm it causes to animals and wildlife (56%)

• Want to do something to help (44%)

• Worried about the future and their health (44%)

• Angry that adults haven’t done enough to tackle this issue urgently (37%)

2.10 Girls want to be able to return bottles in the places where they spend their time and make sure that everyone can use them. Girls said the best places are:

• School/college (49%)

• Shopping centres (47%)

• Train or bus station (31%)

• The park (31%)

• The beach (31%)

• Local supermarket (31%)

2.11 Many schemes use coupons, but this isn’t the best way girls want to get their money back. Instead they’d like to get the cash back straight away, and many would like the option to donate their deposit to a charity of their choice. Girls said:

• They’d donate to a charity of their choice (17%)

• It should go towards helping the environment (22%)

• They’d like to get the cash (32%)

2.12 Girls are willing to pay up to 40p for the DRS because they know it’s going to help the planet, and they’ll get the money back. But they also want to make sure everyone can use it and that nobody is excluded because of the cost.

• 30p (9%)

• 20p (14%)

• 15p (19%)

• 40p (30%)

3. Girlguiding activity  

3.1 Our programme delivers a fun and varied range of activities for girls from Rainbows (4-7) to Rangers (14-18). As part of our programme we encourage girls to explore how they can help the environment through activities such as  Recycling  for Rainbows,  Zero waste  for Brownies, and  Upcycling  for Rangers. And while some programme activities do require using things like straws, we encourage volunteers to adapt this and use recyclable materials - for example using paper straws not plastic ones.

3.2 Future Girl is our girl-led manifesto to help our girls and volunteers make the changes they want to see in the world. In 2018, over 76,000 girls told us what topics they cared about. Through the Future Girl topics, our members of all ages will explore and act together on the things they really care about. The Future Girl topics are:

· Planet Protectors – supporting girls to protect the planet and animals

· Adventurers – ensuring play, outside spaces, and sport is accessible to girls

· Self Believers - improving girls and young women’s mental health and wellbeing

· Respect Makers - supporting girls and young women to feel safe wherever they are

· Barrier Breakers – breaking the barriers that can stop girls accessing certain subjects and careers 

March 2020


Prepared 11th March 2020