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Keep up to date with Future Focus 21c

  • Writer's pictureColin Keogh

Your Actions Can Change The World

Updated: Jul 20, 2018

WP3 lead, Eleanor Turner shares her first encounter with beach cleaning and realising the difference we as individuals can make.

Changing the world one beach at a time!

Growing up not a ten-minute walk from the beach, my childhood memories are filled with long hazy days on the coast. One in particular that sticks out is a fine summer morning when my brother and I had walked to the nearest beach, Rath, before the sun had climbed over the mountain and the air was still cool from the nights’ rain. Early morning adventures always make me feel like you are seeing a secret part of the world where people haven’t imposed themselves yet, but this day we met a man on the beach.

He had an old sack in his hand and was filling it with the flotsam and jetsam caught in the seaweed at the high tide line. “He does that every day” my brother whispered. Three years older, he was a fountain of local knowledge. In my innocence, I imagined he had been designated the job by someone and I thought to myself, “how do I get a job like that?”.

Fast forward nearly 30 years and here I am, a marine biologist, working with Sea Synergy; a marine awareness and activity company, and in facing the tide of plastic pollution washing up on our shores every minute, organising beach cleans and workshops to support a move away from single use plastic that have created a cascade of damage in our oceans.

Cleaning your local beach is one of the most effective and simple ways you can impact positively on the issue of plastic in the ocean. It’s not all hard slog and things you wouldn’t want to touch without a hazmat suit on, I promise. Mostly it’s plastic bottles, little bits of fishing nets or rope and every now and again a treasure, like a lost toy horse or plastic soldier, a fishing tag or buoy lost overboard that can be traced back to its rightful owner; sometimes a whole continent away. It’s an evening out with your friends for a walk, having a laugh and contributing to something much bigger than ourselves.

Most of all its simple; take a bag, or just fill your pocket. You can even post your finds online and join movements like #twominutebeachclean or #takethreeforthesea on Instagram or follow beach cleaning groups on Facebook that will help you identify the origins of your unusual finds. If you like to work in groups, check out the Clean Coasts website, where you can locate your nearest registered Clean Coasts group and join organised beach cleans or start your own group. Clean Coasts will even send you out all the equipment you need.

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to do something, be that man on the beach at daybreak collecting ocean plastics, you never know who is watching. Your actions can change the world.

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