Humans have such a limited time on Earth and as we’re getting older, we’re biologically getting more incapable. However, some has proven or has been trying to prove that age can be just a number and there’s no excuse to not make the world a better place. Just like this cool 70 year-old grandmother Pat Smith who goes by the nickname “Action Nan”.
Smith founded a group called Final Straw Cornwall. The senior has run a successful 2018 campaign that involves visiting and cleaning dozens of beaches throughout Britain. The founder of the campaign group said, “2 beach cleans in 2018 was my New Year’s Resolution and it’s finally done. I won’t stop as our beaches need me!”
During her campaign, Smith kept track of her activities and her thoughts in an online journal. She wrote about how the beaches looked, the trash she collected, and sometimes her frustration with the endless amount of litter she faced.
“It is so disappointing when I cleared the same beach last week and find it in a worse state this week. More people need to get involved in witnessing the damage being done to our Environment which maybe would result in them being more thoughtful about casual littering,” she wrote in her journal.
Well, who’s not gonna be frustrated knowing that no matter how much you try to clean some place, some people keep littering it?
Fortunately, people shared her journal and later on her cleaning efforts spread. At times, volunteers, family, and friends helped her clean those beaches.
On week 15, Smith wrote, “I rocked up with my grandchildren to Harlyn Beach with a group of 20 or so volunteers. The beach was remarkably clean except for microplastics on the strand line and a pair of beach shorts decorating a large rock. Yes I did try to find the pant-less owner but no luck.”
Her campaign got more well-known, and around that time, Smith wrote about the bigger picture of plastic pollution problem. She concluded that in order to stop plastic from overrunning the planet, we need targeted legislation. Not all people realize the danger of plastic and volunteers can’t solve this problem alone.
“I am beginning to feel that beach cleaning and litter picking, whilst helpful at the time, are only scratching the surface of a much greater problem which needs addressing by politicians,”
“A closed loop system needs to be developed so that single-use plastics must be recyclable and have an end of life reuse programmed in so they never become waste. We all need to wake up to the fact that we only have one precious planet and that every one of us needs to take responsibility for looking after it.”
Smith stated that she wouldn’t stop her efforts to clean beach shores that remain under threat. Simply put, her cleaning efforts don’t have an expiration date and she asks other people to rethink about plastic dependency as well as disposal practices.
“A lot of the rubbish I have picked up consists of everyday items. These things are used by all of us and it is shocking to find them polluting our beautiful beaches. Please let’s try to be more thoughtful in this coming year. I’m driven to try and protect our living planet for my children and grandchildren, and I will continue to do everything in my power to achieve that,” Smith stated.
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A wake up call to those who are still not aware of the importance of cleanliness! Picture by @faridzam.muhamad HANTARKAN TRASH CHALLENGE ANDA KEPADA KAMI DI AMAZING TERENGGANU. TAG US!!!! 📌📌📌 #trashchallenge #terengganu #pantai #tingkatkankesederanbersama #terengganunegericantikbudayamenarik
Just recently, social media has got viral hashtag called #TrashChallenge to rally social media users into some trash cleaning actions. Well, that campaign/challenge isn’t the first of its kind.
In 2009, Martin Dorey lived in the seaside town of Bude, Cornwall. He and his group of surfers and beach lovers created Beach Clean Network, a website to connect volunteers who want to clean beaches with the right organisation.
“Nobody was using Facebook for this type of thing back then — mostly someone would just post a notice in the post office window and the same four volunteers would show up. So we created a website to connect folks and improve attendance — and it worked great, but we all got busy,” said Dorey.
I think we all can agree that the website was a really great idea. Sadly, it lacked funding and had to be shut down. In 2013, however, huge storms hit the South of England and as a result, trash covered the beach big time. Dorey took this opportunity to encourage other people to clean the beaches and make it as a habit.
Moreover, he could take social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram to his advantage. Dorey and his friends/volunteers started posting pictures of their efforts with #2MinuteBeachClean hashtag and thus launching his nonprofit campaign.
Dorey explained, “There’s not many people who actually like looking at a dirty beach, but we also don’t think that there’s all that much we can do about it as individuals. We created #2MinuteBeachClean to change that mentality—to move people beyond the idea that it’s ‘not their job’, or ‘not their problem’, and instead encourage each person to do their part. ‘2 minutes’ is shorthand for ‘no time at all’, and yet a whole lot of 2 Minute Beach Cleans quickly add up.”
Thanks to the power of the internet, his campaign had resulted in thousands of the #2MinuteBeachClean hashtag references on Instagram and some tags on Twitter as well.
“It’s all about massive amounts of positivity. You can’t just berate people about how bad they are to the planet – or hit them over the head with the statistics about how bad plastic pollution has gotten. That information has its place, but it can also become debilitating. You’ve also got to give people a pathway to taking action.”
The thing we can learn from this is that when we have a cause and we want to better the environment, all we need is willingness and persistence. At first we’ll feel overwhelmed because it seems like we fail or we’re fighting alone, but if we keep trying, opportunities will come. Take Pat and Martin’s stories. They didn’t succeed at the first try but they kept doing their efforts and look at what they’ve achieved.
All in all, these stories have inspired me to keep trying in many things (including making the environment cleaner and healthier) and I do hope you’re inspired by them as well. Comment down below if you have stories to share!