They say not all superheroes wear capes. Well, our newest superhero does, and it’s the color of a shallow sea. That’s only fitting because this hero, Captain Green, is after one of the world’s greatest villains: ocean plastic pollution.
The infiltration of plastics into our environment—especially our oceans—seems like a topic children’s literature would’ve tackled long ago, right? After all, we’ve already seen climate change become a topic for children’s books. But it’s only very recently that the scope of our marine plastic pollution problem has become clear, and Captain Green is really the first to take a kids-eye view of the issue in a cartoonified way.
“Everyone’s coming up to speed with the problem,” said author Evelyn Bookless to Earther. “It’s happening very fast.”
She’s right: Awareness and opposition to waste, especially plastics, has been picking up steam with cities, states, and businesses opting to ban plastic products (like straws or bags) completely. There’s California. And Seattle. Even Disney! The concern isn’t just about the volume of waste accumulating. It’s that this waste often ends up in our oceans, where it can sicken and kill marine wildlife.
The idea to write a kid’s book on plastic pollution came to Bookless about a year and a half ago, she said. While on vacation on an Indonesian island, she was walking along the beach and noticed a bunch of plastic. The sight shocked her, and she was inspired to bring the issue to the attention of the next generation.
“This is something that I don’t feel anyone can ignore,” Bookless said. “Children have the responsibility, too, to make sure they’re not putting waste in the wrong place or choosing things that are overpackaged.”
Cleaning all our waste up is Captain Green’s job. After graduating from Superhero School, he goes on to save a number of ocean critters in danger: a dolphin trapped in a fishing net, a seagull choking on plastic, and a sea turtle stuck to a plastic soda ring on the beach.
Eventually, Captain Green realizes pollution is too big a problem for even him to tackle without help, so he calls on the public. That gets at the heart of the message Bookless wants to spread with her first published book.
“Captain Green is very kid-like, and, therefore, kids can relate to him too,” she said. “He shows them some ways they can use the three R’s to make small but meaningful changes in their own lives.”
Those three R’s are reduce, reuse, and recycle. Bookless said parents in Europe, where the book has been available since August, have already told her about their kids coming home with new environmentally focused ideas.
The book will be available in North American bookstores come January. A belated holiday gift for that special little person in your life? Doesn’t sound too shabby. Make sure to wrap it in some reused paper. Captain Green would be proud.