• Karly McMullen

Ocean Diagnostics Collaborates with Inspiring Youth to Drive Plastic Pollution Solutions



High school students, Zoe Yeung (middle) and Lucas Lai (right), are Ocean Diagnostics' newest Youth Ambassadors and are already making an impressive splash in the plastics community. These two Ocean Wise Innovator Lab graduates founded ODAQUA, a youth-led non-profit organization that empowers youth to spread awareness and seek solutions to plastic pollution and ocean health. The team leverages Ocean Diagnostics’ tools and technology to collect data on microplastic pollution to determine sources and work towards solutions.


Learning that Ocean Diagnostics works with compassionate, enthusiastic and dedicated environmental leaders, Zoe and Lucas reached out to collaborate on the issue of plastic pollution. Their work in the plastics community has already led to praise Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Joyce Murray and just recently resulted in ODAQUA being appointed as the official group for youth in the negations of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) as a member of the Major Group for Children and Youth towards UN Environment (UNEP MGCY). The inspiring pair work with Ocean Diagnostics to spread awareness among their peers and take action on plastic pollution.



Plastic pollution solutions require awareness and action from the public. Ocean Diagnostics Youth Ambassadors, like Zoe and Lucas, and ODAQUA members are key in empowering more youth to get involved and come together with government, researchers and the public to tackle plastic pollution.


Hon. Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard sings their praise:


“...I would like to thank the founders of ODAQUA Zoe and Lucas, both dedicated members of the Vancouver Quadra Constituency Youth Counsel and volunteers in my office, for your hard work and commitment to this meaningful cause... You are already proving yourselves as leaders now and for the future. I encourage all of you to continue to advocate and spread awareness about ocean health and plastic pollution and to seek solutions to ensure future generations can benefit from and enjoy our beautiful oceans.”

From the Ocean Wise Innovator Lab to ODAQUA to Ocean Diagnostics


“Plastics affect everything. There are so many negative consequences plastics can have and it is so hard to get rid of. That was the moment it hit me. This is serious,” says Lucas, sharing his motivation for co-founding ODAQUA.


ODAQUA, based on an “Ode to Aqua,” is a non-profit organization aimed to empower youth (and their circle of influence) to spread awareness and seek solutions to plastic pollution and ocean health. It is unique in that they foster a community of people from all different walks of life to engage in plastic pollution problem.


Before ODAQUA, Zoe and Lucas were keen to make a difference and joined the Ocean Wise Innovator Lab, whose mission is to mentor and lead future ocean experts through their youth program. Lucas and Zoe learned from leading experts in plastic pollution solutions and were empowered to start their own project.


The pair pitched ODAQUA to passionate youth in the Vancouver/Quadra area, who are part of the Vancouver Quadra Constituency Youth Counsel with MP Joyce Murray, which led to the first ODAQUA beach clean-up.


“We are looking at our future. What do our futures hold? What are we really putting into our environment and how can we change that?” Zoe adds.


“We are looking at our future. What do our futures hold? What are we really putting into our environment and how can we change that?” - Zoe Yeung


Inspired by the number of peers who want to tackle plastic pollution


The project began with Zoe and Lucas, but they’ve quickly grown and are inspired by the number of curious people who want to join.


“As we expand and fill in roles, it is really cool to meet people interested in ODAQUA. We are empowering youth, not just saying it, but having it come into action. There are so many young people that feel the way we do about plastic pollution. They are very passionate and want to make a difference,” Lucas explains.


"...We are empowering youth, not just saying it, but having it come into action..." - Lucas Lai

They recently built an executive team to create more social media content, more outreach, attract volunteers and coordinate events. As they expand, they plan to continue empowering other community members with Ocean Diagnostics tools and technology to measure and monitor microplastics on sandy beaches in different regions to amplify their impact.


WE ALL have the power to protect our planet from microplastic pollution


You too can make a difference


Zoe and Lucas encourage others to join them!


“Come along, you can try something new.” Zoe shares. “No matter if you are super passionate and have been learning about plastic pollution for a long time, or if you don’t know about it and are just curious. We want to create an environment where everyone is encouraged to join.”

The team shares advice for anyone interested in getting involved:

  • Connect with people

  • Surround yourself with people who care about the environment

  • Reach out – ask for more information

  • Be fearless

Get in touch with Zoe and Lucas through their channels below:

theodaquamission@gmail.com odaqua.org @odaquamission


 

Ocean Diagnostics Inc. (ODI) is a Victoria, B.C.-based environmental impact company that diagnoses and protects our planet from the threats of plastic pollution and biodiversity loss. Through innovative technology, cutting-edge laboratory capabilities and collaborative partnerships, ODI enables scientists and the public to collect the data needed to influence local and global solutions.


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