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Young activist who set up marine charity age 12 which leads fight against plastic pollution

A 15-year-old environmental campaigner from Dublin has been hailed as Ireland’s very own Greta Thunberg. 

Flossie Donnelly and her mother Harriet set up marine environmental charity Flossie and the Beach Cleaners back when Flossie was 12.

Flossie, who at just age 11 delivered a TED talk on fighting plastic pollution, has been compared to Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, 19, who four years ago started her world-famous ‘school strike for climate’ movement. 

Flossie, who also takes part in school strikes and protests outside the Irish parliament, the Dáil Éireann, said she felt further action was crucial after seeing so much rubbish on the beach during a holiday in Thailand. 

She said: ‘I don’t want my generation to suffer for our parent’s generation’s doing.’  

Flossie Donnelly (left) and her mother Harriet (right) set up marine environmental charity Flossie and the Beach Cleaners when Flossie was 12

Flossie (pictured with her mother Harriet) regularly takes part in school strikes and has protested outside Irish parliament Dáil Éireann

Flossie regularly takes part in school strikes and beach cleans

Flossie (pictured with her mother Harriet) regularly takes part in school strikes, beach cleans and has protested outside Irish parliament Dáil Éireann

Greta Thunberg in London last month

The activist protesting during her school strikes for climate in Sweden last year

 Greta Thunberg (left in London this year, and right protesting during the school strikes in Sweden last year) is known for challenging world leaders on their action against climate change and pollution

She explained that when she went to the beach, she couldn’t leave without picking up as much rubbish as she could. But realised that more than one person was needed to make a real difference. 

Back home, she noticed more and more rubbish being washed up on the beach and successfully raised enough money to provide the first Seabins in Ireland.

The mother-daughter pair, alongside their army of eager volunteers, are passionate about saving Ireland’s waters and marine life from the ever-growing issue of plastic pollution.

Flossie’s mother Harriet said she is incredibly proud of her daughters strength and determination to make a change. 

She told the MailOnline: ‘Flossie has been called “The Irish Greta” which I know she finds such an honour. I personally am beyond proud of Flossie. she never gives up her fight for the planet and is always so positive when it is so easy to be negative. 

‘I think it is incredible how young women like Flossie and Greta, and so many other climate activists around the world, can inspire so many people, not just children but adults too, to stand up for the planet.’

The mother-daughter pair have been fighting plastic pollution across Ireland alongside volunteers of the charity

The mother-daughter pair have been fighting plastic pollution across Ireland alongside volunteers of the charity 

Alongside their army of eager volunteers, Harriet and Flossie take part in regular beach cleans, including their annual Big Weigh In, which brought in one tonne of rubbish from Ireland's beaches

Alongside their army of eager volunteers, Harriet and Flossie take part in regular beach cleans, including their annual Big Weigh In, which brought in one tonne of rubbish from Ireland’s beaches

Through regular beach cleaning, junior and senior school workshops, they aim to make a real difference to Ireland’s environment while also educating children in a fun stress-free way.

Flossie, who leads an annual beach clean across Ireland, said: ‘Our planet is covered by over 70% of water and we are doing what we can to slow climate change down.

‘It may be small to most people but if everyone chose some small act to help stop climate change it would help the planet, and you feel great for trying.’

She added that despite her young age, her generation are the ones who ‘are going to solve climate change’ and should not be ignored.

‘We will continue protesting for [change] and making noise until the children are listened to, we can’t be ignored and this is our future.’

This year’s Big Weigh In saw one tonne of litter collected by more than 500 volunteers across Ireland’s 26 regions.

Some of this year’s stranger finds included an ‘adult toy’, a car bumper and men’s underwear.

Flossie added: ‘It’s scary having to think about climate change and what happens if it doesn’t work out.

‘I try to always stay positive when I’m out beach cleaning or climate striking but sometimes it really is just scary.

‘Then I remember that I’m not alone, no one is, but if Covid can teach us anything it is that working together as a united world can solve anything.’

The 15-year-old added that education surrounding the environment and climate change is severely lacking around the world.

‘You can always climate strike to get the word out, and by striking you always can meet some like-minded people who are also worried about our beautiful planet.

Through regular beach cleaning, junior and senior school workshops, they aim to make a real difference to Ireland's environment. Pictured: Action figures found on a beach clean

Through regular beach cleaning, junior and senior school workshops, they aim to make a real difference to Ireland’s environment. Pictured: Action figures found on a beach clean

The charity also aims to educate children in a fun stress-free way on how to look after the planet and their surrounding environment

The charity also aims to educate children in a fun stress-free way on how to look after the planet and their surrounding environment

‘There are schools in Indonesia on the frontline of climate change and we work with them to save the planet.

‘But with things like tiny plastic packaging, they just throw everything in the sea, or they burn it. These kids have no education as to what’s happening.’

Harriet said that the Covid-19 pandemic was eye-opening.

‘The planet is suffering its own pandemic. Our rapidly changing climate is a symptom. The world is still continuing to do all it can to address Covid-19 but sadly climate change will take so much longer to solve.

‘As an environmental charity we experience first-hand how much extra pollution has been created during the pandemic. When the world opened up again we saw the dramatic increase of plastic bottles and takeaway cups.

‘We live in a throw away culture, cigarette ends used to be a problem, but now we find disposable vapes on every beach clean… typically they will do more damage than cigarette ends.’

To raise money this year, the charity created a ‘cheeky’ calendar, with models posing with items found on beach cleans or pulled from Ireland’s waters.

Harriet said: ‘We always try to make the negative situation of climate change positive. It’s to keep people smiling.

‘We wanted to highlight what we cleaned up. Everything in the calendar is from beach cleans, like bicycles washed up on the rocks.

‘We wanted to highlight how beautiful Ireland is and to let people know about the charity and what we find.

‘We want people to take small steps. Once you get over the funny side of it, you realise what’s on our beaches,’ Harriet said.

 

The charity have created a cheeky calendar, in which brave naked models pose with items found in Ireland's seas and in-land waters

The charity have created a cheeky calendar, in which brave naked models pose with items found in Ireland’s seas and in-land waters

 

 

 

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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