Bitesize Blog

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am Natalie, a 21 year old wildlife enthusiast and beach cleaner. I spend as much time as possible surrounded by nature, whether that’s the beach, forest or my back garden. I have lived by the coast my whole life, I remember as a child spending summer holidays at the beach, exploring rock pools and swimming in the sea. I think this is why my love for the ocean runs so deep. Loving the sea so much, I thought it only right I look after and clean my local beaches in return. Having noticed the damaging effects plastic is having on our oceans I set up Clean Our Seas on Instagram as a way of highlighting ocean plastic, promoting the use of reusable alternatives and to inspire others to beach clean.
I also volunteer with my local Wildlife Trusts as a Marine Champion which includes doing local ferry talks, taking part in intertidal surveys and speaking at local nature open days.
In September I am going to Bournemouth University to study Ecology and Wildlife Conservation- I can’t wait!

Where can people follow your blog?

@cleanourseas
Also, check out my Facebook page; Clean Our Seas – this is where I promote my community beach clean events for people to join!

Save our oceans

Interview

What made you start your blog?

I carried out my first ever beach clean in the summer of 2017 whilst on holiday in Greece. I noticed plastic bottles washing up on the beach, my family & I cleaned the beach and this prompted me to started Clean Our Seas. My eyes were opened to the problem of plastic pollution and I realised my local beaches needed cleaning too. I first started Clean Our Seas as a way to discover more for myself on ways to be more eco-conscious and to connect to like-minded people. Soon, however, it became a page where I wanted to inspire others to also beach clean and look after our natural environments.

Once you notice plastic, you will see it EVERYWHERE. It’s on the beach, roadsides, car parks, ditches, rivers, all places it shouldn’t be and this encouraged me to spread awareness.

What are your thoughts on Climate Change?

Climate change/global warming is the biggest threat our world faces at the moment. Although my page talks mainly about plastic pollution I am well aware that climate change needs the most attention right now. If we don’t drastically change our ways in the next few years, we will go beyond the point of no repair. Individuals can do their bit but we also need to be putting pressure on large polluting companies to change their ways.

Have you changed much about your lifestyle?

We have definitely changed a lot at home to become more environmentally friendly. We buy much less food wrapped in plastic, now favouring loose fruit and veg, buying in bulk or finding items that would traditionally be wrapped in plastic in zero waste shops instead, where we can use our own containers. For a lot of items, if we can’t buy it without plastic, we don’t buy it at all. We try to buy items in glass or tin which is easily recycled.
Our whole family also use reusable items such as bottles, coffee cups and shopping bags.
I have turned vegetarian and my family do 3 meatless days. In the summer we also plant a lot of salad and vegetable seeds to grow our own.
Furthermore we have made our garden more wildlife friendly by sowing a wildflower patch, planting trees ,creating hedgehog highways and hanging insect/bee homes.

What sort of reactions do you get from people who come across this?

The feedback on my work is really positive, encouraging and heartwarming. There’s a real sense of a community trying their best to clean the world up. People have expressed their gratitude, told me that they have started beach cleaning because of my page and lots of people have been sharing the Clean Our Seas message with me! When I’m beach cleaning people come up to thank me or add bits to my bucket. All in all people have really got on board with my Clean Our Seas project.

Pick up your litter

What changes have you found the hardest to make and what have you done to overcome them?

One of the hardest products I find to get plastic free are cosmetics! I’m not the most talented with makeup but I still like to wear a bit on nice occasions! I also wanted to change the brand of the makeup I buy to be vegan friendly/ not tested on animals. After searching for a while I found a nice brand which is 100% vegan. It does come in plastic but in this case I thought the ethics were more important and I don’t buy much anyway. I still need to do more research as I’m sure there are vegan and plastic free options out there, I just need to find it!

What is your biggest fear about the future?

Losing wildlife for good. The thought of not being able to spot a hedgehog at night, not hearing different birds sing, not finding wildlife in rock pools ; that really scares me. It’s such a shame to think of how long these species have been on this planet and we have destroyed them in a couple of generations. It would be awful for generations after me not to experience the same excitement I get when interacting with nature.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Definitely, Steve Irwin, Sylvia Earle & Steve Backshall!

What is the one thing you would like people to take away from this?

Beach cleaning is really easy and anyone can do it! Most importantly we need as many people doing it as possible. All you have to do it take a bag and a picker/gloves on your walk with you and collect anything unnatural that doesn’t belong there. The more people we have looking after nature, the better chance there is of it recovering!

Do you have any advice for Appletree and Avalon?

Carry on caring for the environment like you are! I love that you support small British businesses and don’t use single use plastic in your packaging.
One of my favourite slogans is Reuse, Repair, Refuse, Reduce, Recycle.

Bitesize Blog

What fantastic work Natalie is doing! It’s such a shame that even if we think we’re doing the right thing by putting something in the bin, ultimately it could still end up on our beaches & in our seas. We need to try to reduce at source & #buybetterfornature. We also need to be careful not to drop litter. If there isnt a bin, you can always take it home instead. What are your thought, what do you think?

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