Ep 24 SOS! Save Our Seas from Plastic Pollution Part 2


In today’s show we speak once again with Flossie Donnelly an incredible 14year old who set up an environmental charity to fight against plastic in our seas called ‘Flossie and the Beach Cleaners.’

As the name suggests, she organises beach cleans where plastic and other polluting rubbish is collected so it doesn’t end up in the sea where it damages the marine environment and hurts or kills the marine animals that live there when they eat it or get trapped in it.

Today she talks to us about how during the Covid crisis they moved their educational workshops for school kids onto the beaches. She talks about why it’s so important to make working to protect our environment fun for kids and to make sure they know that it isn’t all doom and gloom, that the positive message is that if we work together we can really can solve many of our environmental problems.

She tells Buster and Buddy why she trains secondary school teens to do some of these workshops as she is passionate that “Little kids learn best from big kids!”

We chat about the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – and she gives us some brilliant ideas about ways to reuse waste plastic – including how she recently built a paddleboard out of plastic bottles, some bamboo and rope! Now that is an ingenious use of waste plastic bottles Flossie!


Michelle and her team have a collective 50years experience working with kids as teachers, entertainers and parents!

Thanks to Zapsplat, Audio Jungle and Alexander Korotkoff for the sound effects and music.

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Flossie Donnelly

Flossie Donnelly is a secondary school student and an enthusiastic and engaged climate activist. Her passion is the sea and protecting the marine environment works to reduce the plastic pollution in our seas.

She has been dubbed ‘Ireland’s Greta Thunberg.’

Her activism first began on a family trip to Thailand when she was eight years old. Whilst on holidays she was taken aback by the amount of plastic pollution she observed on the beaches she visited and when swimming in the sea. She spent a considerable amount of time on that trip collecting rubbish from the sea and bringing it back to the hotel where her family were staying. On her return to Ireland, she noticed more and more rubbish being washed up on local beaches and knew she had to share her passion around protecting marine life and to educate others about plastic pollution.

She set up her environmental charity ‘Flossie and the Beach Cleaners’ when she was 11years old, organising beach clean-ups in Dunlaoire and Sandycove near her home. However, recently she has expanded the charity and now has over 7 Flossie and the Beach Cleaner groups dotted around Ireland!

Flossie regularly engages in climate strikes either outside her school or the Dáil.

She is the first person to have brought seabins into Ireland after raising €4,000 for the two binns herself. These devices can remove up to 83,000 plastic bags or 20,000 plastic bottles from the sea in one year!

Her work also expands internationally, having connected with villages and plastic charities in Indonesia to help them fight against their plastic pollution problem which is so bad, they suffer with plastic rivers.

She remains positive that if we work together we can alleviate many of our environmental challenges and problems.


Louise Shanagher

Louise Shanagher is a children’s therapist, mindfulness teacher and trainer.

Louise has a BA and MSc in Psychology and further qualifications in Play Therapy and Mindfulness.

She is the creator of the “Creative Mindfulness Kids” method and has trained hundreds of people to be children’s mindfulness teachers.

She is the author of six books: The “Mindfully Me” series, Ireland’s first series of mindfulness books for children and the “Kindfully Me” series and the co-author of Ireland’s first mindfulness curriculum the “Mindful Heart” curriculum.

Louise is passionate about promoting positive mental health for children and young people. She believes that all children should get the opportunity to learn how to practice mindfulness and self-compassion and believes that these practices will help children lead happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives.

Website: https://www.louiseshanagher.com/


Michelle Connolly 0:10

Hello, and welcome to The Kids Are All Right, a podcast specially for kids. That's all about health, happiness and wellness. I'm Michelle, and this summer we're looking into how we can help look after our planet. So join us this summer as we discover, learn and have loads of fun along the way. And as usual helping me on this summer project is of course you know them well, my co presenters Buster and buddy.

Buddy 0:33

Hey everyone, buddy again.

Michelle Connolly 0:36

So are we ready to get this sort of project on the road?

Buster 0:39

Oh yeah let's go!

Michelle Connolly 0:46

So guys, this summer is all about protecting our natural environment, and we're focusing on plastic pollution. And on the last episode, we spoke with Flossie Donnelly, an amazing 14 year old girl who has set up an environmental charity called Flossie and the beach cleaners to fight against plastic pollution in our rivers and seas. She's doing amazing work to educate kids and adults about the damage plastic rubbish does to our environment, and is working to clean up plastic pollution not just here in Ireland, but all around the world. In places where the problem is at its very worst.

Buddy 1:14

Yes, she is amazing. Last week, she told us about parts of the world, including Indonesia, where she has visited where they have so much plastic rubbish, they actually have plastic rivers

Michelle Connolly 1:25

Yeah in parts of the world where they don't have enough facilities to recycle or collect waste. It can build up to this incredible level. But to be honest, we don't have plastic rivers here in Ireland, we do still have a plastic crisis. And at the end of the last episode, we asked you all to have a little think about plastic pollution in your area and see if you start to notice it a little more when you're on your way to school or in the park or out for a walk or a play.

So did you guys have a little think about plastic pollution?

Buster 1:59

Yeah, Michelle. It's crazy. When I started to think about it, I began to see plastic rubbish nearly everywhere. I looked

Buddy 2:06

Yeah me too Buster!. I never really noticed it as much before. But after last week's show, I couldn't get it out of my head. And yeah, I saw it in the playground, on my street on the pavements on the walk to school. It was everywhere, Michelle!

Michelle Connolly 2:20

Yeah, that's really interesting, isn't it guys, because when we started thinking about it, all of a sudden, simply becoming aware, opens your eyes up to a problem that was right there in front of you the whole time.

Buster 2:30

I know. It's mad that I never really saw before.

Michelle Connolly 2:33

So last time, Flossie talked to us about how plastic pollution in our rivers and seas slowly kills the fish and vegetation. And we really need our seas to be healthy and thriving, as they absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide, which is really important so that it doesn't end up going into our atmosphere. And if you remember, guys, our world is heating up because we're producing too much carbon dioxide already. And this is called global warming. And it's our planet heating up which is making our climate change. So everything is connected.

Buddy 3:00

Yeah, and I can't believe that whale poop actually absorbs carbon dioxide. ,

Buster 3:05

Yeah plastic rubbish has such a huge effect on our planet.

Michelle Connolly 3:10

Yeah it does Buster and that's why it's brilliant that we have Flossie back on with us to tell us more about what we can do to fight back against plastic pollution and climate change. So Flossie thanks a million for joining us again.

Flossie Donnelly 3:20

Absolutely. Yeah.

Buster 3:21

Oh, hey, Flossie.

Buddy 3:23

Yeah, welcome back. Flossie!

Michelle Connolly 3:25

Flossie, we talked last week about you being a climate activist, and how you decided a few years ago to set up your very own environmental charity and action group called Flossie and the Beach Cleaners to try and fight this plastic pollution problem we have and you know, it's just amazing. So tell us a little bit more about why you set up your charity.

Flossie Donnelly 3:42

Well, I started up, my Mum and I set it up when I was just about to go into secondary school, because we realised that the amount of work that we were constantly doing was going to be way too much for and I went and secondary school, also people were constantly saying, Can we donate to your charity, we were like, sorry, we're not a charity yet. Okay. And then also, we really wanted to fundraise, and then help people on the other side of the world who are dealing with plastic problems.

Buster 4:07

Oh cool, So just like your charity name says, you go out to the beach and collect the plastic rubbish that's been dumped there. Cool.

Flossie Donnelly 4:16

Yeah. So the charity, what we do, we do workshops for junior school kids, to educate them on plastic pollution, and a few minutes of climate change. So kids understand what the problem is and how we can solve it. And understand that we do have a chance of saving our planet. And then we also educate TY students in schools and in secondary schools, and bring them out on beach clean, so they have an idea of whether they want to work with a charity. So they have an idea whether they might want to become environmentalist, still, because working with charities when they're older.

Michelle Connolly 4:48

Brilliant, because you had a brilliant idea about how to teach kids

Buddy 4:47

Yeah, yeah. You were saying to your mom, that little kids learn best from the big kids. And that is so true.

Flossie Donnelly 4:50

Yes, yeah. We always found that if the child was even a year older than me, or two years older than me, I would listen to them immediately more than I'd listen to my parents because Yeah, because they were cool older kids. So I realised it. And that's why we have transition year students, TY kids who come out. And then after a few weeks, they learn how to give workshops to junior school kids. And then the kids learned quite fast from them.

Michelle Connolly 5:24

That's brilliant. That's fantastic. Do you find it quite easy to get these transition your students? Are they quite enthusiastic to get involved in the charity work,

Flossie Donnelly 5:33

They're like, every child that comes on a beach clean, they show up with really angry, sad faces having to be there. And then after about half an hour, you see them really getting into it and trying to find the most they can try and find.. And they end up having loads of fun doing it.

Michelle Connolly 5:51

Very good, very good.

Buddy 5:53

And Flossie with the Coronavirus and everything. You moved all of your workshops onto the beach themselves. That's such a cool idea.

Flossie Donnelly 6:00

Yeah, this is actually a lot better, because then you can have treasure hunts on the beach and stuff where you have to find the golden plastic bottles.

Michelle Connolly 6:09

And what else do you do in these in these workshops on the beach, then Flossie.

Flossie Donnelly 6:13

It's the same as usual, just outside like five minutes of stress free climate change, and how we can recycle things. What are the main problems in the sea? And how fish do not want the plastic in the water!

Michelle Connolly 6:27

And I heard there's something you do as a 'Flanksy'?

Flossie Donnelly 6:30

Yeah, we do that on every beach clean. It's a Banksy, who's a really famous English artists graffiti artist in London. And then we put an F L in front of it for Flossie the beach cleaners and we call it a Flanksy and then at the end of every beach clean, we create a massive piece of art out of the rubbish we just collected.

Michelle Connolly 6:49

Fantastic. What's the best bit of art that you ever made? What kind of creations Have you made out of the collected rubbish?

Unknown Speaker 6:55

Eh the first one I think I did was I wrote in the sand as all the plastic and rubbish, pollution. And then one of the best ones I ever did was probably a seal picture. And then with all the other rubbish we collected, it wrote, save our seals and stuff like that.

Buddy 7:10

That's cool.

Buster 7:12

So is it just you and your friends doing a beach clean around where you live? And then

Unknown Speaker 7:17

No, it's normally like whoever wants to come. And then just recently, my friends have started to get involved as well with it, which is great.

Michelle Connolly 7:23

Very good. And I heard that your charity. Now you're connected with other beach cleaning groups around Ireland. Is that right?

Unknown Speaker 7:31

And yeah, we're going nationwide right now. And we're getting a lot in between those beach cleaning groups set up all across the island. So we have someone go away. And then I can't remember where else actually.

Michelle Connolly 7:43

That's amazing. That's amazing. So how many how many groups do you think you have around the country?

Flossie Donnelly 7:47

Seven? I think so far,

Buddy 7:49

seven, wow.

Buster 7:50

Seven Flossie and the beach cleaner groups, that's brilliant!

Michelle Connolly 7:54

And I heard that you did a big Awareness Day with all your different beach cleaning groups. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

Unknown Speaker 8:00

Yes, we did what we like to call the virtual beach clean, where we do a beach clean on different beaches at the same time. And then we like have to call each other and then compare pictures of who got the most and who got the best.

Michelle Connolly 8:14

And so you weigh how much you will collect. And what's the most you've ever collected in one day, all the different groups.

Unknown Speaker 8:21

Last year, at the end of last year, when we counted up all our rubbish, we managed to collect the amount of two baby whales out of the water.

Michelle Connolly 8:28

Wow, that's shocking. And Flossie You mentioned earlier that you usually like to start kids off with a five minute stress free climate chat. So what do you say to the kids,

Unknown Speaker 8:41

Eh we just say how the world is getting hot because we eat a bit too much meat. And that makes cows fart a lot and and then that makes the world hotter, and that's giving the world a temperature and we need to cool it down. It's the basic way we say it. And then we give a bit about how and how the water levels are going up.

Michelle Connolly 9:01

And how the kids react when you tell them that.

Unknown Speaker 9:04

Some of them can seem a bit scared. But before we always do ask if anyone's quite worried about climate change, and then yeah, usually we have a few kids put their hands up and then we try to you know, talk them about how it is a problem but we can solve it. But we just have to have a positive attitude. And keep in mind, this is something we have to work together to solve.

Buster 9:23

Yeah, but there seems to be so many environmental problems and they all sound so big. How do we even know where to start or what to do?

Flossie Donnelly 9:32

Well, the way I do it is I find one thing I'm interested in so to me that was the see and then I tried to see how I can help around that. So like if you care about nature more, try plants and trees and and if you're more into crafts, can I do a lot of upcycling or try and make a bee hotel which is really cool. Like we have one and bees are living in it now which is really good. Brilliant. And if you don't know where to start yet, and you're trying to find how you can help just start With a simple climate strike because you'll find it from there.

Michelle Connolly:

That's that's really good advice because I think even as adults, we can feel a little bit overwhelmed. There's just so much and it's like where do I even start? So that's really really clever advice Flossie, to just pick one thing you feel passionate about, and stick with it.


Yeah. And Flossie. We're always being taught in school about reduce, reuse, recycle. Will that help?

Unknown Speaker:

Absolutely, yeah. It literally is a very good thing, reducing reusing and recycling

Michelle Connolly:

the three R's. Okay, so, so tell us a little bit more. So if I, if we really want to focus on reduce, reuse, recycle. So starting with reduce, I mean, what kind of things just as of tomorrow, what kind of things could we start doing?

Unknown Speaker:

You could start buying milk out of cartons instead of out of the big plastic, you could start getting your, try get as much fruit as you can that's not wrapped in plastic, because that's always a lot better. You can try new keep cups and and metal water bottles, instead of getting single use cups.


Oh cool. What about reuse? What could I reuse?

Unknown Speaker:

Eh reusing can lead on to recyclin g like where you just recycle things, but we're using things, it just more like arts and crafts. Really, if you have like an old let's see an old milk milk bottle. For example. If you like stab a few holes in the top of it, then you have a watering can all of a sudden!

Michelle Connolly:

I saw a video where you made a paddleboard and paddle boarding obviously is very popular at the moment. But you made a paddle board out of plastic bottles.!

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah, it took about, I don't know, a few months to make. But I ended up making a paddle board out of loads of plastic bottles and a good few pieces of bamboo and lots of rope.

Michelle Connolly:

Very good. And it worked?

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah, it works. It's just a bit sore to get on because they haven't sanded down the bamboo yet.

Michelle Connolly:

Well, I suppose it's it's summer, so perfect time to get the last few bits sorted out. And I suppose a really simple thing we can do as well is, you know, reusing old clothes. So whether we pass them onto somebody else, or I saw another video of you making bandanas out of old clothes as well. So I suppose material and clothing is something we can reuse quite easily.

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah, there's so much you can do with our clothes. You can give them away you can make them into things,


And Flossie, the big one that everyone knows the most about is recycling. So what are some of the key things you would recommend when it comes to recycling flossie?

Unknown Speaker:

And well, here's the best way of thinking of it. If the plastic is squishy, then it's not recyclable. If it's hard plastic, though, then it's recyclable.


Oh that's a handy tip actually to know,

Michelle Connolly:

Why isn't squishy plastic recyclable? Do you have any idea.?

Unknown Speaker:

And well, hard plastic can be remade into things because it can be melted down and then made into the next object where as squishy plastic can't be without emitting alot of carbon emissions. Okay. Also your hard plastic always has to be very clean before you put it in recycling, then we have to make sure there's no squishy plastic on it before you put it in.


What exactly is squishy plastic though?

Unknown Speaker:

Eh squishy plastic would be like a packet of crisps. The packaging will be very squishy. And then the hard plastic like like in milk bottles, and milk bottles. Those are hard plastic.

Michelle Connolly:

You know, with all of these ideas, I suppose the reduce, reuse, recycle, pick something you feel passionate about and and do something about it. I mean, they're really clear messages about stuff we can do that we kind of feel less powerless, Em and you know what, I heard that another way that plastic has been reused. The plastic bottles are filled with earth. And then they can be used as eco bricks. And they can be used to build houses for people in different parts of the world. That's quite an incredible use of plastic. I mean, is that something you can tell us about more?

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah, eco bricks are really cool. So basically just shove as much squishy plastic as you can into a plastic bottle. And then after you shove enough in it becomes hard. And then you just stick them all together. And then you can make whatever you like out of them. I'm going to try make a bench this summer out of them.

Michelle Connolly:

A bench.! Very good, very good. Because I have seen some videos where they they build these houses as well in parts of Africa as well. So I think when we start thinking about plastic in a different way in the different ways we can reuse it that mean really The sky is the limit.


Yeah. Oh, it just makes me feel so much better that there are lots and lots and lots of things that we can do in our own lives to make a difference and reduce plastic pollution.

Michelle Connolly:

Well, I'm glad you think so because you know I've arranged with Flossie for us to go out over the summer and join her on her team on a beach clean and get involved in one of her amazing workshops. How does that sound guys?


Brilliant - oh I'm so excited, I can't wait to meet flossie on the beach!

Michelle Connolly:

And kids you can come to the beach with us by listening to her summer project shows on here we get on as we'll be recording live from the beach so listen Flossie thanks a million for joining us. We've really learned loads and we can't wait to learn even more with you down on the beach.

Flossie Donnelly:

Brilliant. I can't wait to meet you all.


Thanks very much Flossie! Oh, can I bring my flip flops?!


Flossie I can't wait! Eh will I be able to get an ice cream when I'm down there?!

Michelle Connolly:

Hey Guys, you're there to work!! Flossie thanks so much for being with us the last two weeks and we can't wait to come down and join you for a beating so thank you so much. And thank you so much for all the work you've been doing up until now as well. Looking forward to meeting you in person


Yeah, you're such an inspiration Flossie!Thank you.


Thanks Flossie Bye!

Hey guys, it's that time again. It's time to tickle your funny bone!

Michelle Connolly:

So that's it for today. We hope you enjoyed the show and we're looking forward to joining us on the beach.


Yeah, can't wait to get started on all the plastic pollution.


Oh guys, it's gonna be brilliant. We hope you come along too and don't forget to subscribe and or follow our podcast on all the platforms you listen on.


Yeah, just look for the kids are alright podcasts. Oh, but remember pasture that's all as in



Michelle Connolly:

and remember, try to be healthy,


be well


and be happy!

Michelle Connolly:

See you next time on The Kids Are All Right podcast.


You guys ready? Let's rock!!

Kids Jokes:

Knock Knock....Whose there. Ghost. Ghost Who? Ghosts don't say Who they say Boo!!


Ah that was so funny!

Michelle Connolly:

So guys we've learned loads, laughed lots and now it's time to give our brains a massage....are you guys ready for this weeks Mini Mindfulness Moment?!




Okey dokey Brahm Stokey!

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