SOS! Save our Seas from Plastic Pollution!

EPISODE 23: SOS! SAVE OUR SEAS FROM PLASTIC POLLUTION!

GUEST & SHOW DETAILS

In today’s show we speak with an incredible 14year old girl, Flossie Donnelly who set up an environmental charity a number of years ago 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. This is to try and make sure 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.

She talks to us about why it’s so important to look after the marine biosphere – which is another way to describe everything that grows and lives in or around our seas and beaches, as in order to have a healthy balanced environment, we need healthy and thriving seas.

And she explains how our seas are the worlds biggest carbon sink – which is basically a natural way our world absorbs carbon dioxide. And our world is getting warmer because we are producing too much carbon dioxide and other gases, that’s global warming, it’s more important than ever that we look after our seas so that they can continue to absorb this carbon dioxide and stop any extra going into the atmosphere.

Buster and Buddy couldn’t believe it when Flossie told us that our seas are a bigger and better carbon sink than all our rainforests! Wow!

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GUEST OF THE DAY

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.

www.flossieandthebeachcleaners.com

Transcript

Michelle Connolly 0:09

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 are 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 0:32

Hey everyone, buddy again!

Michelle Connolly 0:36

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

Buddy 0:38

Oh, yeah.

Buster 0:39

Let's go!.

Michelle Connolly 0:45

So guys, here we are for another episode from our special summer project.

Buster 0:49

Oh, yeah. These are brilliant.

Michelle Connolly 0:51

Yeah. And this summer is all about protecting our planet and our natural environment. And today, we're going to focus on plastic pollution,

Buster 0:59

Plastic pollution. That's too much plastic everywhere. So that's like why we recycle and everything right Michelle?

Michelle Connolly 1:05

Yeah, exactly Buster recycling, but also, it's about how we need to cut down our use of plastics like plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic wrappers, basically plastic that we use once and then throw away. Well, so much plastic has been made and thrown away into the countryside or rivers and seas that it's now been called a plastic pollution crisis.

Buddy 1:25

Oh, that doesn't sound very good, Michelle.

Michelle Connolly 1:27

No, it isn't buddy. And the main problem is plastic that is made and used once. And this is called single use plastic. It might only be used for a few minutes, let's say if it's on a chocolate bar or a bottle of water. But when it isn't recycled or thrown away, it can take up to 400 years to break down.

Buster 1:43

Oh, wow. So if someone throws an empty crisp bag into a field, it would still be there almost 400 years later.

Michelle Connolly 1:52

yeah that's exactly Yes. And the reason things have reached this crisis point is because half of all plastic made ever are made in the last 15 years!

Buddy 2:01

Wow, That's crazy. That's a huge amount of plastic in a really short amount of time.

Michelle Connolly 2:07

Yeah, it actually is really hard to get your head around. It isn't it. But people are becoming much more aware of this plastic crisis and are starting to take actions. So I want you to know if you kids have heard about the plastic pollution crisis? And if you know what it is

Vox Pops 2:23

Oh, yeah. plastic pollution is basically non biodegradable plastic and just thrown away plastic in the middle of the sea.

Well, I think it means like people throwing away plastic and like maybe it goes into the ocean, or gets like stuck on something. And like it hurts the environment. I think it's like rubbish people don't need anymore. And then they throw in like a bush or four is not in the bin.

I think plastic pollution is where someone throws away, and plastic and puts it in the sea and then animals eat it. And then they die. So plastic pollution is bad for the environment. Because if you throw it on the ground and when to see birds they eat it and it might kill them. Same for living ocean animals and plastic pollution. And it's about humans not caring for animals. Like if if someone was trying to make you eat plastic, you wouldn't be happy. So pollution is bad.

The Kids Say...What?! Jingle 3:39

The kids say Oh, yeah.

Buddy 3:45

Okay, so the kids seem to have a great idea of what plastic pollution is.

Michelle Connolly 3:49

Yeah they do and so that is why I know they will really enjoy listening to our special guest today. Her name is Flossie Donnelly. She's 14 years old, and has been working really hard for years to raise awareness and understanding about the problem of plastic pollution. She teaches people about the damage it is doing to our marine life and oceans and has even set up an environmental charity to fight against it. Both here and around the world. She's amazing.

Buster 4:11

Oh yea, I've heard about her. Actually. I saw her on a TV show. She is cool!

Michelle Connolly 4:17

Yeah, she's doing fantastic work to help fight plastic pollution for sure. Flossie thanks so much for joining us today. It's brilliant to chat to you.

Flossie Donnelly 4:25

Thanks for having me.

Buster 4:27

Hi, Flossie. I'm so excited to be talking to you. Hey, hi.

Michelle Connolly 4:32

So Flossie, we've been talking about plastic pollution and how we regularly hear on TV and radio how this is such a big problem in our seas and rivers. So what exactly is plastic pollution?

Flossie Donnelly 4:42

plastic pollution is you know, regular plastic that we have in our kitchens and that we buy in shops, but then what we do is we if it's not recycled properly, or like discard it on a beach on throw it anywhere, basically it becomes plastic pollution.

Buster 4:55

That's unbelievable. Flossie But how bad is it here in Ireland.?

Flossie Donnelly 5:01

In Ireland. Luckily, we're not the worst country, we do have like, some knowledge of recycling, but we're also not the best. Because like the amount of plastic we have in the oceans is terrible.

Michelle Connolly 5:11

Okay, okay. And is it getting worse, or

Flossie Donnelly 5:14

it's starting to get better because people are getting more education about it. And the kids are really learning more about this and learning about recycling and how to take care of our plastic properly.

Buddy 5:24

So Flossie, when I'm down in the park near me, there's a river that flows through it. And I do see lots of plastic bottles, plastic bags, and just lots of other rubbish floating around the edges of the river. Is this the main kind of plastic that's being thrown into the rivers in our seas?

Flossie Donnelly 5:39

Yeah, it's mainly. And also, we always find plastic bottles, cans, plastic bags, and always men's pants, never women's

Buster 5:47

men's pants!! Are you kidding?

Flossie Donnelly 5:49

Nope. Every beach, can you find about five pairs!

Buster 5:55

So is it just like ordinary people when they're out and about throwing rubbish on the ground that's causing the problem.

Unknown Speaker 6:01

yes, it is, all plastic does come from humans at the end of the day, but it also comes from the boats, the other boats, when it's driving around when their plastic might fall off the boats. And then when people forget their rubbish on the beach. And then when fishermen cut their big fishing nets in the water when they get tangled in the rock.

Buster 6:21

So all this plastic and rubbish being dirty and not looking very nice. Why exactly is it bad for plastic to be in our seas and rivers,

Unknown Speaker 6:29

because we have really beautiful marine life. And we have a gorgeous biosphere

Buster 6:33

Eh what's a biosphere?!

Flossie Donnelly 6:36

it's basically our surrounding and the marine life. And it's like the sea and where all our beautiful evergreens and all the beautiful seaweed grows. Our beautiful marine life do not want plastic in the sea. Like like ours seals for example. They're they've really bad eyesight. And when after a big storm happens, then the waters really dirty. So they can't tell whether this shiny thing is a fish, or a big plastic bottle or piece of plastic.

Michelle Connolly 7:03

Okay, okay. And so you're saying, especially after bad weather, and the sea gets churned up, it isn't so easy to see what's underneath the water that animals can quite easily eat the plastic that's dumped in the rivers and seas, I suppose. What's the main issue with animals eating plastics?

Unknown Speaker 7:24

Well, they can choke on it for one. And also plastic is poisonous, and eventually, sadly, will kill them. And if a fish eats plastic, then who do you think eats the fish normally?

Michelle Connolly 7:35

Oh Yeah, yeah.! So it's not just the large plastic items that caused the problems. It's as they start to break down. And that's like you say microplastics. So do you want to tell us a little bit more about that.

Unknown Speaker 7:47

So micro plastics, and what we have to do is we have to get the plastic out of the water when we can because if we don't, eventually tiny little particles of it break down like tiny bits of plastic untill we can barely see it. And that's called micro plastic. And then literally any marine animal breathes and breathe in a lot of microplastics through their nose or their mouth.

Michelle Connolly 8:08

I heard somewhere a fact about microplastics that literally on the top of the highest mountain range in the world they find microplastics is it, It's it's pretty much everywhere microplastic?

Unknown Speaker 8:19

aring this is probably by the:

Michelle Connolly 8:29

Wow. Wow. So we could be breathing it in.

Flossie Donnelly 8:32

We could be

Michelle Connolly 8:33

Wow. Okay.

Buddy 8:35

I was watching a documentary on Netflix recently. And it explained that keeping the sea clean is not just important for all the fish, marine life and vegetation, but that it has a huge impact on climate change. They mentioned something about the sea is one of Earth's biggest carbon sinks. Can you explain what a carbon sink is?

Unknown Speaker 8:53

Well the easiest way to put it actually is by talking about whales poo!

Michelle Connolly 8:57

okay!

Unknown Speaker 8:59

When a whale poos, its poo sucks in other carbon emissions in the air, which is all the bad stuff, we don't want it in the air, which is making the world really hot. And then it basically goes into the sea and then it traps it in there. And then as it gets warmer though, and the ice caps melt, then sadly it gets released. So that why whale poo is important. We need whales and also we have to stop burning carbon emissions and we have to eat less meat for the, so the cows can fart less.

Buster 9:28

So we need the whales to poo and we need the cows to fart less!

Michelle Connolly 9:33

But I suppose what Buddy is saying there I suppose it's probably like I suppose the way they talk about our rain forests and forests in general being so important because they give out the oxygen but they take in the carbon, is that the way the sea works as well that the sea actually absorbs some of the carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.

Flossie Donnelly 9:51

Yeah, the sea absorbs this as well. A fun fact actually is that the sea is better at absorbing more carbon emissions than the entire rain forest.

Michelle Connolly:

Wow, wow. You know so much Flossie about all of this. And I read that you started to become aware when you were a kid being very kind of concerned about this plastic pollution problem. And I heard that it was when you were on holidays, and you were swimming in the sea with your mom that it kind of became an issue for you?

Flossie Donnelly:

Yeah. When my mom and I were on holiday a good few years ago, when I was eight, I just couldn't work out why there was so much plastic pollution in the water, and also so much beautiful marine life just swimming around and I couldn't understand it. And that's when it really starts off with me. And from that day, I could not leave a beach without picking up the plastic on it. So it only became natural at nine to start a beach cleaning group.

Michelle Connolly:

Oh, cool. That's incredible. I suppose once you see it, you become aware of it. You can't unsee it in a way.

Flossie Donnelly:

Yeah. Yeah.

Michelle Connolly:

Flossie, I think most kids will have heard of Greta Thunburg.

Buddy:

Yeah, yeah, I'm sure I've heard about her. Isn't she the girl who's like doing loads of fighting for climate change?

Michelle Connolly:

Yeah, she's she's a school girl from Sweden. And she's an environmental activist who has challenged the leaders of countries all around the world to start taking bigger and better and immediate steps to fight climate change. And I suppose you consider yourself or do you a climate activists too?

Flossie Donnelly:

Yeah, I consider myself a climate activist. Because for the past two years now, I've been climate striking.

Michelle Connolly:

Wow. And so I mean, was Greta, did she influence you?

Flossie Donnelly:

Well for the beach cleaning know, that came by myself. And for the climate striking I, once I saw Greta doing it, I started a few weeks after her, I thought oh, my God, I have to support this girl

Michelle Connolly:

And for kids, I suppose maybe who might not know what climate striking is? What exactly is that?

Flossie Donnelly:

So basically, on every Friday, at one o'clock until two o'clock, you leave school, and then you just can hold a sign. And then you stand there for an hour or sit there. And then you chant different fun chants with friends, like, hey, whoa, whoa, climate change, has got to go.

Buster:

That sounds brilliant!

Flossie Donnelly:

The point of it is like, we're missing school, because we care about our environment. And we want to show our politicians and our government, all the big people in the world, that we are the kids. It's our future next, and we want to fight for it. Like the amount of people who stop in their cars to take pictures with me and my friends striking is hilarious, then we take pictures and videos, and then post them all over the world for people to see that we are climate striking in Ireland as well.

Buster:

That's brilliant. I definitely want to get involved in that. And I definitely want to let the politicians know and the big people in my life that I want to help stop climate change. Because I never really understood why plastic in our rivers and seas was such a bad thing. But now that I do, I just can't understand why people could throw their plastic rubbish away and think it's okay.

Buddy:

yeah, I've never thrown rubbish on the ground either. I've always looked for or found a bin or even brought it home if I had to. But now that Flossie has really explained how bad it is for our rivers and seas, as well as for climate change. Well, it would seem totally like a crazy thing to do if you just let plastic go anywhere and end up in our waterways.

Michelle Connolly:

Yeah, you know, you're right, guys. And you know, understanding why it's so bad for our environment is a very powerful way to get people to decide themselves to change how they behave and Flossie this is why you're also campaigning, to try and get environmental studies as a core subjects in schools, so that kids learn from an early age, what's going on with the environment, how our actions can damage our world, and therefore, what things they should be doing to protect our environment.

Flossie Donnelly:

Yes, the the theory is not enough children in Ireland are learning about climate change, and if they are in school they're all getting different messages from their teachers, like some teachers say, it's not real,

Michelle Connolly:

Do they? !

Flossie Donnelly:

Yeah, like I have teachers at school who will say it's not real. And some say, we don't have a chance, and we shouldn't fight for it, like ...they say different things and give us different facts. So it'd be good if we all are on the same page, and we have a message of positivity going for us. So it's less climate stress. It's better for our mental health, and it means we have the absolute chance of saving our planet.

Buster:

Yeah, that's brilliant. We do have a chance at saving our planet.

Buddy:

Yeah, that's amazing to think that people would actually just disregard it as something that's not even important. Wow.

Michelle Connolly:

And Firstly, you know, you really are starting to make quite a name for yourself internationally, you have appeared I've heard in some children's books, you had an RTE TV programme made about the work you're doing and you regularly have chats with presidents and politicians. It's really quite amazing the impact that you have had...

Flossie Donnelly:

thanks.

Buster:

Yeah, yeah, I saw the TV show about where you went to visit the town in Indonesia, where they have the plastic rivers that there's just so much plastic pollution that looks like a river is made of plastic. That sounds crazy.

Flossie Donnelly:

Yeah it was absolutely mental and really sad to see.

Michelle Connolly:

So Flossie you tell us a little bit about that trip to Indonesia and I had never heard of patient plastic rivers before. Can you explain to us what that means?

Flossie Donnelly:

Well, like it's a river, which literally just looks like a bunch of plastic going down. You can't see any water. For the past like two years before. I've My mom and I were constantly seeing videos on social media of the rivers in Indonesia. And how literally is just plastic and stuff like that. And we wanted to see whether it was real or not, and how we can help them and support them. So we decided we would go over to see how bad it was. And it turned out it actually wasn't as bad as the videos, because there's a video or after big storms where big plastic was going, or the bins like were flown over and all the plastic was in the river. Now don't get me wrong. It wasn't very good. Like there was loads of floating dead fish in the water. And goats heads, but it was a lot better than we expected.

Michelle Connolly:

And during the flood season, I suppose things can get quite tricky then as well.

Flossie Donnelly:

Yeah. During the monsoons, it can get really hard especially with the rivers it overflows or the sewage comes out. It's really horrible. Wow. Yeah, during that season, like the school kids, they need to get to school. So my mum and I, since we have the charity, we fundraise to get to boats sent over to them, so they can go over to their schools during monsoon.

Buster:

Wow, that's amazing.

Michelle Connolly:

That really is amazing Flossie. And there is so much more that your charity Flossie and the Beach Cleaners does, both around the world and here in Ireland. So we're really looking forward to chatting with you more next week about this, and you'll be telling us lots of things we can do to help stop plastic pollution and to help our marine environment. So thanks so much, Flossie.

Buddy:

Yeah, thanks so much.

Buster:

Thanks, Flossie. Talk to you next week!

Flossie Donnelly:

Thanks for having me.

Michelle Connolly:

So kids over the next week until we speak with Flossie again, we want you to Think About plastic pollution in your area. Maybe you can take a look around your local park or when you're out and about and see what you notice. Are there plastic bottles, plastic bags or other plastic rubbish dumped around? Is there more or less than you thought there might be?

Buster:

Hey, guys, it's that time again. It's time to Tickle Your Funny Bone!!

Kids Jokes:

Hello, I'm Fiona Rose and I'm gonna,m on my birthday then I'm going to be five. I'm going to tell you a joke.Em, Knock Knock. Who's There. Isabelle. Isabelle who? Is the bell not working.

Buster:

I like that joke of the day.

Michelle Connolly:

So guys, that's almost it from us today. Thanks to all the kids who sent in their audio clips. And if you have a story, a question or a favourite joke, we'd love to hear from you. All you have to do is record it on the inbuilt voice recorder on an adult's phone and WhatsApp it to us.

Buddy:

You'll find all the details on our website www.thekidsareallright.ie as well as loads of info and everything we talk about in our shows.

Buster:

And follow us on social media for loads of fun stuff and competitions. That's where me and buddy take over Yeah,

Buddy:

just look for The Kids Are All Right podcast. Oh, and don't forget that all as in, ALL. Nice.

Well, we hope you enjoyed this week's show. And if so, tell all your friends about it.

Michelle Connolly:

And remember guys try to be healthy,

Buddy:

be well

Buster:

and be happy.

Michelle Connolly:

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

Buddy:

Okay kids, Are you ready? It's time to Air Guitar in the Car, or Wherever you are! Lets Rock!

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