70-year-old Englishwoman wages war on plastic waste on Cornwall's beaches


Smith picking up trash on Charleston's beach. Photo: AFP

There is no age limit to taking action on behalf of the planet. Testament to that fact is 70-year-old Pat Smith, who is fighting to put an end to the plastic waste which is polluting beaches and destroying marine life in Cornwall, England.

Each year, over 13 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans. For the past 50 years, global plastic consumption has risen by a factor of 20.

One million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, but less than 10% of this plastic is correctly recycled. In Britain, there are over 3,000 pieces of waste per kilometer of beach. The county of Cornwall was one of the first regions to declare a state of climate emergency.

Local protagonist

At 70 years of age, Smith has singlehandedly arranged for the removal of plastic waste from 52 Cornish beaches in the space of a year! Setting up The Final Straw association in Charlestown, on Cornwall's south coast, she organises groups of volunteers to clean up the beaches.

At the same time, the association is campaigning with local entrepreneurs to rid Cornwall of single-use plastic. Over 200 businesses have already joined the movement, and it is Smith's dream to ban plastic straws.

An object that is commonplace in contemporary culture, it has become a major ecological scourge. Indeed, the single-use plastic straw cannot be recycled as it is too small. The European Union is set to ban its use by 2021. – AFP Relaxnews

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