Back off the Amazon Reef - My first campaigning experience 

After taking part in some political marches in London this year including the Women's March on the first day of Donald Trump's presidency, the importance of taking to the streets was cemented for me.

For all my signing online petitions, blogging, and talking to friends about climate change, I knew that it wasn't enough. Fortunately, Greenpeace recently organised a volunteer 'orientation' event in London for new members wanting to find out how they can get active and help.

It was here I learned that there was a Greenpeace group based in Walthamstow, called Waltham Forest Greenpeace. One of its current campaigns aims to protect a precious, barely-studied coral reef at the mouth of the Amazon River from oil drilling by BP. The company has been responsible for a series of accidents following their horrific Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 and an oil spill in the Amazon Reef would have devastating affects on this thriving ecosystem, which is home to pink corals, coralline algae, more than 70 species of reef fish and more than 60 species of sponge. Besides; oil should stay in the ground if we really want to combat climate change and not blow our carbon budgets.

In the hope of contributing to this campaign I, along with two other members of Waltham Forest Greenpeace, took to Walthamstow Town Square to speak to the public and get local people to write messages to the boss of BP. It was my first campaigning experience and I was apprehensive at first for fear of being seen as a disturbance and expected most people to avoid eye contact and dodge their way past us. Especially since we had a SpongeBob SquarePants costume!

However, I was genuinely touched by and thankful for the amount of people that stopped to listen and discuss what we had to say. We received 58 heartfelt messages in just two hours from people of all walks of life, including a girl who talked to me passionately about studying renewable energy at school and a son who told his father he wanted to protect the Amazon Reef for future generations.

We later handed in a letter to staff at the BP garage in Forest Road, imbued with solidarity and companionship. I even donned the SpongeBob SquarePants costume – and it made a great photo!

Read more about why we can't trust BP to drill near the Amazon Reef here, and if you want to get involved with Greenpeace Waltham Forest get in touch here.