Kids Doing Rad Stuff: Sydney Steenland
What’s your name?
Hi! My name is Sydney Steenland.
How old are you?
I am 13.
Where are you from?
I am from Australia.
Tell us a little more about ‘Sailing with Sea Monkey’…
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I guess French Polynesia would be at the top of the list. The culture, the landscape, the flora and fauna are all something I have learnt a lot about and would absolutely love to visit and experience.
What’s the happiest memory you have from this year so far?
Well, if I had to pick any day because I had to just pick one, but perhaps the day I met Bindi Irwin. That day was her 20th birthday and we talked to Robert, Teri and Bindi Irwin.
If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be?
I am lucky I have already met one of my heroes, Bindi Irwin, this year. That was a great experience and now I want to meet David Attenborough, that would be awesome!
I bet it’s been fun sailing around Asia right … tell us more about it…!
For my brother and I, travelling the world is great for our education and for life experiences. You grow up with so much knowledge and memories. The most frequently asked questions from people who live on land is “what about socialising with other kids?” We meet a lot of people as we travel and there are other kids who also live on boats that we meet. They are always happy and interesting people that you build long-lasting relationships with and run into in the future. Another common question we get asked is “what do you eat on the boat?”. We eat normal food, if we are sailing and are too tired, 2-minute noodles will be on the menu. We also buy fish from the local fisherman. Our boat always needs some repair work, so my dad always has something to fix or improve.
If you could talk to animals, what would you tell them?
I wouldn’t so much want to tell them things, yet if I could I would tell them how to avoid human dangers. Though I would mostly absolutely love to be friends with animals, ask them questions and hang out with them.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
100% be able to control and manipulate the elements. I have always wanted to be able to swim underwater without having to come up to breathe, create fire with my bare hands, control the wind, and flatten the seas so our boat won’t roll.
What’s your favourite thing to do with your family?
Either hiking, swimming or exploring a new place. Hiking in the wild for hours is fun because of all the different terrains you go through and sometimes there will be a waterfall. Exploring a new place in a new country is also always different. Even in normal life since my brother and I are boat-schooled, we always talk to each other and joke around. We all get along with each other famously.
What has been your favourite place that you’ve travelled to?
Definitely the Islands of Anambas, but all of the places have been wonderful, but Anambas is my favourite. It is a very isolated group of islands of Indonesia, east of Malaysia and north of Malaysian Borneo. Anambas has hardly any tourists, small amounts of pollution, beautiful islands and very friendly locals. We will return in 2019 and this time spend 2-3 months there!
Who inspires you?
I have a fairly long list but in short, my idols are the Irwin family, David Attenborough, Leonardo DiCaprio, Freddie Mercury and Tracey Read. Almost all of them have got something to do with conservation, but each of them has their own different reason they inspire me.
What are your favourite things to do outside?
I love snorkelling, building sand castles, climbing trees, hiking, making beach fires and doing random things.
When did you discover the ocean plastics issue?
Living on a boat going through Asia you see a lot of things, good and bad. That’s the reason I became a vegetarian. Seeing all the plastic and what our parents teach us, my brother and I got educated about that in a very real way. Our boat would go through currents and big patches of plastic. In Asia, especially Indonesia, the people of small villages and even in bigger ones, they don’t have access to proper waste removal, recycling and education from the government. So it’s just that they do not know that they are harming the environment when they dispose of a piece of rubbish on the ground.
What do you do to educate others about the issue?
Through Indonesia when we gave island schools school supplies, we would tell them about the plastic problem. We tell people about it when we meet them, on our facebook page, website and youtube channel, sharing our adventures and projects.
Do you ever do beach clean-ups?
Usually, my family and I pick up rubbish when we walk down a beach or a hike. When we were in Sumatra at a small surf school there, we taught the children some English and about plastic problems, then we all did a beach cleanup. After we left they kept doing cleanups. We once sat with fishermen for over an hour to help them take the plastic bags off their ice blocks and prevented the bags from being tossed into the sea.
What are your top tips for anyone looking to rise above plastics?
Just reject single-use plastic like bags, straws and cutlery. Carry reusable bags, straws, cutlery and containers. Don’t be a big consumer and only buy what you need, with the occasional treat.
Tell us more about the recycling plastic machines and how they work…
Our plastic recycling project are these small recycling machines that we plan to set up in smaller villages (or just random places around the world), so the people there can clean up their plastic waste whilst giving people jobs or work experience, and turning that waste into something they can use in everyday life or sell.
The machines consist of three sections: the shredder, the extrusion and the injection machine. The shredder is pretty self-explanatory, it shreds the plastic. Then the shredder pieces can either go into the injection or extrusion machine. The extrusion melts the plastic on the inside from 150°c to 220°c, then the plastic comes out a nozzle as a string. Then the injection machine also takes the shredded plastic and melts it, after it melts you push a lever down and that pushes the plastic into a mould.
You can make anything from cutlery and plates to chairs and floor tiles with a cool colourful and random pattern in it.