Local schoolchildren recently teamed up with coastal conservationists to help tackle the theory and the reality of waste plastic in Torbay.
Pupils from Roselands Primary in Paignton learned about marine pollution with education staff from Living Coasts, Torquay’s coastal zoo and aquarium, then helped clean Goodrington beach with the Torbay Cleaner Coasts Initiative and staff from Torbay Council.
In addition, the school raised money by making gifts from items normally thrown in the bin - such as glass jars, paper and odd socks - and selling them to families in their very own pop-up shop after school.
They raised £130, some of which will be spent on litter pickers and bag holders for the school, while the rest - around £60 - will be donated to the Torbay Cleaner Coasts Initiative. The group will spend it on equipment for community beach cleans, including reusable gloves, litter pickers and reusable bags.
Living Coasts Operations Manager Clare Rugg said: “This was a great example of local community engagement and cooperation – different groups working together to raise awareness and protect coastal habitats.”
Educator Matthew Lewis ran a workshop at the school about how plastic and other marine litter enters the environment and the damage it can cause. The children then carried out their beach clean with Simon Wallace, the Torbay Beach Operations Manager.
Simon Wallace, who is in charge of beach and coastline management for Torbay Council, said: “I would like to thank the pupils and staff from Roselands for taking part in this great partnership event. It was really encouraging to see their passion for keeping our beaches clean. Torbay is renowned for its beautiful, award-winning beaches – we’re inspiring the next generation to look after our coastline and continue to help educate others in keeping our beaches clean and free of litter and plastics.”
Roselands head teacher Mr O'Connor said: “Our pupils are extremely passionate about taking care of the environment and in particular, what they can do for their local environment. Working with Living Coasts gave them an opportunity to experience the impact they can have through hard work. As a result, we are sure it will inspire them to challenge others to do more, too. A truly memorable opportunity!”
Living Coasts Educator Matt Lewis: “We were asked to talk to the class, as they were planning a beach clean with TCCI and had been studying the issue in class. The children sorted through real rubbish, collected from a beach in Devon, and then hunted for nurdles - plastic pellets - in trays of sand. These activities emphasise the amount and diversity of plastic waste found in the sea, from tiny pellets to huge fishing nets. Having learned the theory with us, and completed our activities, the class then went on to do a real beach clean with TCCI.
“The kids were brilliant! We had three classes together, so it was a busy room, but they were so engaged with the topic that they were eager to hear what we had to say, and to do our activities.
“We had lots of great questions from the pupils, which is good sign that they were thinking about the issue. We also try to make sure the children feel empowered to do something to help, and doing a beach clean is a fantastic way to make a difference.”