Leave No Trace Brighton caught up Hattie Payne, a 13 year old Duke of Edinburgh’s Award participant, eco-activist and resident of Brighton & Hove to hear her thoughts on beach cleaning, the health of our oceans and what it’s like being told that your generation ‘has to fix the planet’.
Tell us a little bit about why and how you started beach cleaning?
I’ve just started the Duke of Edinburgh’s award and I was thinking about what I could do for the *volunteering section during the pandemic. I wanted to do something for the environment somewhere local, a place that everyone uses. I thought beach cleaning would be a good idea.
What do you think happens to the rubbish that’s left on the beach?
It goes out into the sea, or if it gets picked up goes to landfill.
How do you think we could solve the problem of people leaving rubbish on the beach?
People need to buy things with less packaging, or there could more multi-recycling bins for all the different waste. People should take responsibility for what they bring to the beach and pick up rubbish, even if it’s not theirs. We should also all stop buying so much stuff!
Who’s responsibility do you think it is to clean up the beach rubbish?
Everyone plays a part. If everyone did just did a little bit to help clean up the beaches it would make a huge difference to the bigger problem.
Do you get taught about the impact of pollution on the ocean and planet in school?
Yes, but a lot of people switch off because of the way it’s delivered which is full of panic, and makes them feel guilty. I really think there needs to be a different approach.
“People keep telling us that our generation has to fix the planet, which is a lot to take in and be responsible for”
Do you think there should be more environmental awareness sessions or classes in school? What type of information would be most valuable or impactful?
People keep telling us our generation has to fix the planet, which is a lot to take in and be responsible for. We could have lessons to make us think about way we live and how to take care of our local environment, this could be by litter picking, thinking about what we buy, thinking about where our clothes come from, how they are made and how often we are going to wear them. We could also be taught about recycling and buying alternatives to plastic, buying and using things with less or no packaging.
What type of rubbish do you collect most of?
Plastic! …and a lot of this is fishing line. There’s also a lot of bottle lids, from people drinking on the beach.
Do you feel hopeful or unhappy about the future health of our ocean environment, and why?
From what I’ve learned I feel like I shouldn’t be hopeful, but I am. You have to be hopeful to make a change.
Do you think more young people should get involved with beach cleaning?
I feel like everyone should. It’s all of our responsibilities, all ages. It makes you feel like you’re actually doing something and it’s not all doom and gloom!
* The four main sections of the DofE programme are Physical, Skills, Volunteering, and Expedition.