Plastic Free Boy makes Port Douglas homebase to protect next generation of coral

Great Barrier Reef Conservation

Jereme Lane


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15-year old Arlian Ecker has been on his mission for almost 5 years now

Meet 15-year old, Arlian Ecker, aka Plastic Free Boy. Arlian is a passionate, outgoing and inspired young leader who has taken on the not insignificant role of anti-plastic crusader, all while still getting his high school education.

This is not a new thing either, Arlian has been working on his project for almost five years now. He is quite well known in schools throughout the country as he regularly goes to speak to school students about how they can get involved in the fight against plastic.

He has also featured several times in the news media including A Current Affair and even counts Chirs Hemsworth as one of his past collaborators. He has won various awards including the 2019 Student Achievement Award from the NSW Department of Education for his commitment to teaching communities about plastic pollution.

“I really want to empower the kids to become the leaders of tomorrow by sharing my story and achievements over the past five years. I want to prove to them that it is possible to make a difference at a young age,” Arlian told Newsport.

Arlian will visit Port Douglas State School and Mossman State School next week to do a presentation on his waste-free mission to keep plastic pollution out of the ocean.

Arlian will talk about his new mission to protect the next generation of baby coral larvae for their future by activating millions of students in schools to become change-makers and actively get involved in civic science programs.

“As a young person, I want to use my voice to protect the next generation of baby corals being born this November with a clear message to the world to lower our Carbon Footprint"

He has teamed up with his filmmaker mum, Karin Ecker, who has enabled Arlian for the past five years on his mission to inspire kids to take action for their future environment. Karin produced the 22 min film 'Plastic Alarm' featuring 11 year old Arlian aka Plastic Free Boy, inspiring kids and families about the problems and solutions of plastic pollutions.

“Arlian’s new film project, called PLAN B, showcases solutions on how to protect coral reefs and also highlights the inter-relationship to the Daintree Rainforest and showcasing what kids can do to make a difference,” Karin said.

Karin’s first film about Arlian, Plastic Alarm, has now been shown to over 1 million students in Australia and overseas and the film combines with lesson plans to create positive impact in the classroom around plastic awareness.

The new film features Arlian partnering with universities in civic science programs and showcasing local and national initiatives such as coral nurture programs, coral restoration programs, reef monitoring, wildlife rehabilitation, forest restoration, indigenous education.

Arlian has also teamed up with scuba bohemeths PADI for their Aware program, and PADI has been sharing his story on becoming a conservation diver on PADI TV.

“We’re very grateful and lucky to have been supported by some amazing local tour operators, who themselves are showcasing solution initiatives to protect the coral reefs,” Arlian said.

“Arlian is connecting the dots between schools, tourism, PADI and universities, in local and global initiatives,” Karin said.

There’s lots more planned for Plastic Free Boy and he says he’s just getting started.

Arlian is a very busy 15 year old. He will soon appear on the covers of Australian Geographic and Padi Undersea Journal. He has tours planned with year 6 classes to the Low Isles to teach them civic science and was invited by Cairns Climate Summit to speak at the Climate Youth Summit to inspire young people in pursuing a career in conservation.

After the state ban on single-use Plastic was enforced Arlian was on a mission to help coffee shops to reduce their single-use coffee cups by encouraging customers to bring their own cups. You can see his poster in various coffee shops around Port Douglas and Mossman.

Local shop owner, Raine Ward, from The Makers is supporting Arlian by hosting an event on the 11 November (RSVP [email protected]), inviting members of the Douglas Shire community to join Arlian on his mission to discuss how the community can support the next generation of baby coral reefs being born for the kids future.

"Having grown up in this amazing environment, I am also very passionate about our future reefs and have designed my shop towards a sustainable future,” Ward said.

Arlian's message

"My mission is to inspire, empower and enable millions of kids in schools to become future leaders in engaging in solution-based learning. Kids that are given the right education and pathway will become the key to change, Arlian reckons."

"We hope to see industry across the board proving their commitment to preserving our natural assets by helping Arlian and others to produce grassroots leaders of change for next generations. Arlian is connecting Schools in Australia and overseas to a new culture of Tourism School Excursions, involving PADI, the Reef Guardians Program, and working with Universities, Karin said."

"As Australians, we are the local custodians to the world's oldest rainforest and the world's largest natural wonder, the Great Barrier Reef, we have the obligation and privilege to present to the world that we do care about what happens in the future, by making it matter to the kids and open the door to empowered education projects. We want to create a culture of corporate and individual responsibility. We want to make this a priority and we want to work together!

Arlian and Karin are looking for a way to get out on the Reef to film the Coral Spawning event for their new film PLAN B. The spawning is going to be 3 days after the next full moon in November between the 23rd and 25th of November. Arlian is hoping to present the spawning on film and connect to various scientists in other locations who are doing significant research such as IVF with Prof. Peter Harrison on Lizard Island. You can find out more about their mission PLAN B - Solutions to protect the future coral reefs on the Plastic Free Boy website.

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