Trash Girl has fresh start as ‘uphill battle’ to save the planet rolls on
- Credit: Archant
Norfolk schoolgirl Nadia Sparkes made headlines around the world when she adopted the nickname Trash Girl. Reporter STUART ANDERSON spoke to her about settling into a new school, Greta Thunberg and the ongoing battle for the environment..
Getting away from bullies was a godsend for Norfolk's so-called 'Trash Girl' Nadia Sparkes.
The 13-year-old from Hellesdon was given a fresh start by joining Reepham High School in spring, where she feels much more at home than at her former school in Norwich.
She said: "When I came to this school I had so many emotional barriers up I wasn't sure if I was acting as my proper self.
"So I'm having to get used to acting like my proper self again."
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Last year bullies nicknamed Nadia 'Trash Girl' because of her routine of picking up rubbish on her way to school, using the basket of her bike to take home aluminium cans and plastic bottles.
But the Year 9 student defied her critics by wearing the Trash Girl title like a badge of honour and her story went around the world, inspiring thousands of people to get more serious about litter and protecting the environment.
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She also started a Team Trash Girl Facebook group as a forum for people to share how they are trying to help the planet.
Nadia said: "The point of making the group was that a lot of people had done the same as me but had no support, so they felt like they were alone. It was so they had a place to share what they were doing."
The group now has more than 6,000 members.
"I wasn't sure if it would continue at all at first," she said. "I thought it might be dead in a week, so for it to be still going now is great."
MORE: Trash Girl spends the day at the EDP and Evening News to share her eco tipsYou can even buy Team Trash Girl-branded t-shirts and hoodies online - the proceeds from which will go towards community and environmental projects.
Nadia said she was encouraged by the worldwide attention environmental issues had been given over the past year through efforts largely led by other children such as Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg.
Nadia said: "Greta has been put into a position where she is treated like an adult.
"She's a figurehead because she's a child who can deal with problems that adults can't be bothered with. What she's doing is great because the more she does and the more attention it gets, the closer we get to fixing everything. We only have one planet and we are going to slowly leach it of everything if we don't do something."
Nadia said she thought children were often better at identifying problems than adults - but had less power to act on them.
She said the key to protecting the environment and taking steps to tackle climate change was convincing people in positions of responsibly to take action.
Nadia said: "When you're younger you notice a lot more things.
"Your imagination is more vivid and you have all these ideas which come together.
"But until we get people who are higher up who can actually do something, we're not going to get anywhere.
"I'm not entirely sure on how and get them to listen, I was never very good at politics or anything.
"But we just need to put it as straightforward as possible, because we are on a deadline, and if we ignore the deadline we won't have a second chance."
MORE: Hellesdon High School pupil nicknamed 'trash girl' by bullies refuses to stop collecting litterNadia said she thought it could be too late to reverse climate change by the time the children of today reached adulthood.
She said: "In five years time I'll be an adult, but will it be too late by then? It's a constant uphill battle.
"We're constantly saying this is wrong and we need to fix it, but we're being ignored because we're children."
Nadia said she was as surprised as anyone that her Trash Girl story had become so well known.
Her litter picking even led to her being given a Points of Light Award by former prime minister Theresa May in April, and she was made an Earth Hour ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund.
Nadia said she still regularly picked up litter in her free time, around other hobbies such as playing computer games.
At school, she said she most enjoyed creative subjects as a way of expressing herself.
Nadia said she was unsure about what to do after finishing school, but she hopes to go onto college, and likes the idea of studying art and animation.
She said: "I like writing and drawing and painting. I've got a lot in my head but no way of actually explaining it."