Record Number of Sign Ups for Glass Guardians
Friends of Glass is delighted to announce that following the relaunch of our Glass Guardians initiative, the number of schools and pupils registered has already surpassed last year’s total.
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The 54-year-old has been collecting rubbish from the beautiful Runswick Bay beach she’s been visiting for over 40 years and just last year committed herself to a whole year of litter picking.
Since then Jo has become a part of the UK’s litter picking community, regularly plogging (that’s running and picking up litter to you and me) her way around her home in the Yorkshire Dales.
And after winning a competition run by Friends of Glass, she’ll get the chance to do what she loves in France.
She said: “I’ve always loved going to the beach and on one particular beach that I’ve been going to since the 1970s, I could see there was much more plastic.
“It’s certainly not a place that’s covered in plastic but there is more and more and as I started to read about it, I found out about the different beach cleaning communities and got involved.
“In 2018 I set myself a challenge, after Blue Planet, to do either a two minute litter pick, beach clean or street clean, every day for a year wherever I was – often I’d just do it on my way to work and clean up the street where I work.
“But then I noticed the Friends of Glass competition and given that I like being in the sea and I like beach cleaning it was like ‘wow what an opportunity’.”
Jo will be whisked off to Biarritz for an all-expenses paid trip in early May after winning the #CheersToTheOceanUK social media competition.
She’ll get to enjoy surfing lessons on La Cote des Basques before taking part in a beach clean-up operation organised by the Surfrider foundation.
“I am looking forward to the surfing very much because the waves will be very different on the Atlantic Ocean, but I think the beach clean and learning about the beach clean is what I’m most looking forward to.
“All of it sounds really fascinating but I think it will be fabulous to see the work of the Surfrider foundation and their aims and to have a beach cleaning certificate is very nice. I’ll be an official beach cleaner!
“The whole thing will be really, really interesting.”
Jo is a keen paddle boarder and has already had some, albeit brief, experience surfing.
“I’ve always loved being in the water and I’ve always wanted to learn how to surf but I knew I wasn’t fit enough because surfing has got quite a steep learning curve.
“I got a board for my 52nd birthday and I started paddle boarding to give me confidence.
“I went to a surf camp last year and out of a three-day surf camp I managed to stand up on the board for four seconds so I’m not the best surfer in the world but I really enjoy it.”
It was this love for being in the ocean that inspired Jo to say thank-you to the places that give her so much joy by picking up the litter that washes up there.
She documented her journey in a short film ‘Small Things, Great Love’ which, she says, has inspired others to follow in her footsteps in giving something back to beaches across the UK.
“It’s very from the heart just about what beach cleaning, litter picking and plogging means to me and why I do it, what the places are that I love.
“It was shown in a London cinema as part of a charity fundraiser event and people came up to me afterwards and said ‘We’ve started or we’re going to start picking up litter because of you’.
“I share it a lot on my Instagram and it always warms my heart when someone says ‘I’ve picked something up because I’ve seen Jo do it’.
“I try and show them that it’s a really nice thing to do and you don’t have to spend hours every day, just two minutes can make a difference.”
It’s this message that Jo wants to get across – it doesn’t take long to make a difference.
“I’d like people to take two minutes a day, wherever they are, to pick up litter so it doesn’t go down into the drain system and end up in the ocean, and also to think about what we can all do in tiny little ways to make a difference.
“I’m by no means zero waste or plastic free but I do try when I’m making my purchases to think ‘Can I take a plastic-free option, or can we buy something that’s in glass rather than plastic, or can we buy in bulk’.
“It’s just those tiny things that you can do to change your habits.
“It’s not about being eco-perfect, it’s about making small changes where you can to try and make a difference and encourage other people to do it, But in a nice way, always in a nice way – never berating people, so it’s just about making small changes that can add up over time.”