THERE has never been a more crucial time to educate youngsters about the repercussions of plastic waste.
That was the message from volunteers who united to clean up the beach behind the Hotwalls in Old Portsmouth this morning.
Armed with litter-pickers and hi-vis jackets provided by Portsmouth City Council contractor Colas, they combed the coastline in a bid to collect waste materials which will be re-purposed and used to support environmental engagement projects.
There to do their bit were mother and daughter team Alison and Zethtea Arif, from Copnor.
Alison, 34, said: ‘We had seen and heard about other beach cleans in Portsmouth but hadn’t been able to come, so today gave us that chance.
‘We often talk about the issue of the environment and Zethea says “that’s not good, I want to tell all my friends about that” – so she’s very glad to be out for the first time, making a difference.’
Aged just five, Zethea helps recycle and compost food waste in her garden at home.
Exercising her environmental awareness with the beach clean today, she said: ‘I’ve wanted to help because I have never done this before.
‘I’ve picked up five pieces of rubbish so far, but I’m aiming for 10.’
The youngster’s willingness to get stuck into the activity was encouraging for other volunteer cleaners, including members of the Old Portsmouth Women’s Institute.
Eileen Howard, who attends the group, said: ‘Growing up, I made sure my children held on to their sweet wrappers at the beach and put them in my bag – but it seems some today are happy to throw them anywhere.
‘It’s so important children are taught about the environment and I believe there should be more of a focus on it in schools too.’
On the other side of the Hotwalls – facing the arts studios – volunteers and passers-by were invited to get creative and make creatures out of clean, recyclable materials in a workshop led by a team from Aspex Gallery.
Enthusiasm in that, alongside the 20-strong turnout for the clean itself, was good news for Lauren Nicoll.
The Hotwalls Studios events apprentice said: ‘We’re really pleased with the number of people here today – this is all about engaging with the community and looking after our home.
‘With the workshop out the front and the clean along the beach, there’s something happening on both sides of the wall and it’s great to see.’
Today’s event comes less than a month before The Great Solent Beach Clean, on September 15 – which is aiming to unite volunteers in a record-breaking clean-up of The News area’s coastline.