Emily Stevenson Co-Founder of Beach Guardian

Emily Stevenson Co-Founder of Beach Guardian - how to tackle beach and plastic pollution #saveourplanetsundayseries
Engage educate and empower against plastic pollution - Community Interest company. Started with my father, we both have a passion for this, growing up in Cornwall I’ve seen the problem of plastic every day of my life, on our beaches and our seas. This connection to the ocean that me and my Dad wanted to give everything we could to saving it. I did my marine biology degree at the University of Plymouth and then my Masters at the University of Exeter. We share our knowledge and passion for this subject so we make a good team!

 

What is Beach Guardian?

 

We describe it in a cliche way - its a strange and exciting puzzle, where all the pieces have been coming together for years without us noticing it! Everyone we come into contact with has the knowledge they need to tackle plastic waste, in their own lives. We can do this through a variety of different avenues - it might be teaching the next generation in schools or an outreach program, down on the beach in the field conservation doing beach cleans, working with businesses to educate them on reducing their reliance on plastic.  Telling as many people as we can as our voices are loudest together.

 

What were the driving factors in starting Beach Guardian?

 

I feel very privileged and lucky in how things have turned out, throughout our journey at BG things seemed to align. Whether it was moving to Cornwall and having the connection to the sea/beach or finding others that believe in this cause.

 

One key moment was after watching the premier of the film ‘Plastic Ocean’ we were coming home and we both said ‘we can do more’. After that Blue Planet came along and overnight the world woke up to plastic pollution. People started looking for advice and facilitators to help with the beach cleans.

 

What challenges are you facing right now?

 

We’re facing the same challenges as everyone else - we rely on face to face engagement, after lockdown it obviously it set us back. I was worried about the future of BG as it was harder to get our message out there. But we adapted, like nature, and got all our content online and now its come together and meant our message can be louder.

We have such phenomenal support in our community, which we are so grateful for.

 

How do your beach cleans run? What kind of waste do you find?

If you’d have asked me a year ago - my answer would be different as before we’d out it online and anyone can turn up.

Now we have to monitor it as we have had 100 people turn up in the past. But we need to get people out there again, its a social and environmental activity - very good for peoples mental health too! Its going to be as safe as possible - we run it through Eventbrite and we sterilise all the equipment.

 

I have crips packets older than my mother still in perfect condition!

 

We have to focus our efforts on one beach, we’re all interlinked, one world and all our eco system is as one. We started on one beach but we want it to stretch further. We want to make sure the whole of the UK is getting covered with these environmental initiatives.

 

We can’t save the world on our own, we have to do it together.

 

Its taken over half a century to wake up to plastic pollution, it wasn’t until Attenborough that we saw the destruction plastic can give us. We are now so aware now, I hope we can turn around PPE pollution as quickly as its come into the environment.

 

Community workshops, going into schools, its so important to be teaching children about how to care for their natural environment. Education and awareness are our greatest allies in fighting plastic pollutions Young people need that knowledge so changes happen for future generations. I am worried, I’ve seen so many young people have eco anxiety, like they have a huge weight on their shoulders and they understand that they’re inheriting the world. They’re already very engaged for the most part - we see a lot of innovation from young people. Its up to us to listen to their ideas on how to find solutions. Its important as parents we listen to them as they can teach us!

Anything you want to discuss, ask please contact me emily@beachguardian.co.uk