Unsure of how you can fight a war against plastic waste? Then watch this

19 Jul 2018

Beckey-Finn Britton, Clean Coasts development officer for Irish counties Donegal and Leitrim. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

Beckey-Finn Britton of the Clean Coasts project is determined to completely change our thinking on single-use plastics, starting with a two-minute clean-up every day.

There is no denying that the world has a problem with plastic waste. In fact, the world has had this problem for decades but little, if anything, was ever said about it.

In recent years, the natural abuse that is single-use plastics has been put firmly under the spotlight, with some of the best-known examples – such as the Great Pacific Garbage patch – being particularly egregious.

But there is some hope, according to Beckey-Finn Britton, the Clean Coasts development officer for Irish counties Donegal and Leitrim, who recently spoke at Inspirefest 2018.

Speaking on stage, Britton said that while it might seem impossible for one person or a family to make any sort of difference by cleaning up a small pile of plastics off a local beach, that small bit can help if lots of people and communities chip in.

One such idea is the ‘two-minute beach clean’ whereby you can just spend a very short amount of time picking up microplastics off the beach, even enough to fill one hand – that could have a drastic and beneficial impact on nearby marine life.

Having a great impact

Originally starting in the UK, the movement has gone totally global, with such initiatives on this scale having the potential for a major impact on the world’s beaches.

Britton said that this quick spurt of a clean is not limited to just the beach, but also to any setting, ranging from the park to a busy city street.

“The tipping point for large-scale social change is 25pc,” she said, “so, if 25pc of us here today take home with us – around the world – these ideas of creating a better environment for ourselves, it’s amazing what we can accomplish.”

So far, she has already seen a dramatic shift in attitude by communities in her region turning littered beaches into pristine environments for both marine life and families that might want to visit them.

“I really want to drive home the fact that individual empowerment and taking that step towards tackling these issues has great impact,” she said.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event celebrating the point where science, technology and the arts collide. Ultra Early Bird tickets for Inspirefest 2019 are available now.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic