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Litter pickers for Cornish Schools

Cornwall Council, the Royal Cornwall Hospital’s NHS Trust and Beach Guardian have teamed up to send 2 litter pickers to every college, primary and secondary school in Cornwall.

The litter pickers, which have been made from the hospital's single use masks and were the innovation of the local company Waterhaul who created this circular economy.

Roz Davies from the Hospital Trust said: “The purpose of this initiative is to edcuate young people in Cornwall on the effects that pollution and waste has on our climate and the detrimental impact this has on our health and wellbeing.

“We are delighted that Beach Guardian are also supporting this initiative, creating some fantastic learning resources for schools to follow or take inspiration from.”

It has been previously estimated that, even if just 1% of facemasks aren’t disposed of correctly, it may result 10 million masks entering the environment, every month. PPE pollution is plastic pollution and brings with it the very same consequences on wildlife, including entanglement and ingestion.

Emily Stevenson from Beach Guardian said: “We have collected over 1,500 PPE items from their local coastal and inland litter picks since the beginning of the pandemic, from sites where they had previously we had never found any. Evidence of the impacts on Cornish wildlife has already been observed, including seagulls entangled in face mask straps.”

Along with the litter pickers each school will also receive a book, The Carbon Buddy Manual  by Colin Hastings.  The books are being delivered to all of Cornwall’s 332 schools by staff members from the hospital consisting of doctors, nurses, therapists and administration staff.

STEM Coordinator at Cornwall Council, Janine Bisson, said: “What we’ve learnt from our engagement work on the G7 is that young people are passionate about their environment.

“So, alongside this we are also launching a competition called “Cornwall Climate Guardians”. We hope this scheme will be embraced by parents, guardians and children across Cornwall and make this into something really special, specific to Cornwall.” 

The competition will have 5 categories based on the “5 steps to Wellbeing”:

Take Notice – who can find the oldest or furthest travelled piece of litter

Connect – Who can make the biggest impact with their communities (from beach cleans, food bank collections to raising awareness)

Be Active – “How many miles have you walked/skated/scootered instead of using the car?”

Learn – “Make do and Mend” How have you learnt to make do and mend?  Tell us what you have reused/recycled and what have you made?

Give – Send us your best recipe using seasonal fruits or vegetables for any month of the year

Following the competition, which is being drawn on 1st November 2021, a book will be created comprising of seasonal recipes and “Make do and Mend” projects, especially for young people.

The book will then lead onto a series of online workshops with reusing, repurposing and repairing being the focus.   

The hospital uses specialist recycling equipment for this and face masks are not permitted in kerbside recycling. 

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