This month we’re thrilled to have published The Wide, Wide Sea – an inspiring picture book about protecting our coastlines and reducing plastic pollution, written by Anna Wilson and illustrated by Jenny Løvlie.
Today we’re delighted to share a blog from Anna on plastic pollution and five ways you can help to save the sea.
I love the sea. I love sitting and staring at it. I love swimming in its crystal-clear shallows and diving down into its deeper, darker places. I love the birds that fly over it, the plants that grow in and around it and the fish and the bigger sea mammals that live, swim, hunt and play in it too. I love it when it’s calm and flat and glass-smooth. I love it when it is ink-black and raging with storms crashing overhead. It doesn’t matter how it’s behaving – I love it in all its moods.
Wild swimmer and author, Anna Wilson
I live a mile from the coast and I walk down to the edge of the land every day with my dog, Nala. In winter, the coast path and the beaches are pretty empty. Not many people live near my house and walkers don’t come this way often in the winter months. And yet, even at this time of year, you can see the effect that we humans have had on the sea because of one very ugly thing: litter. This is the only thing that I don’t like about living by the sea, because it makes me sad.
I was thinking about this when I wrote The Wide, Wide Sea. Most of the year I am like the child in the book, running down to the shore, shouting, “This is the best place in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD!” But when the storms come, the sea crashes high up on to the cliffs and with it comes a lot of litter, and then I am like the child in the book – angry and upset.
The huge waves are very powerful – they can easily lift large boulders and send them flying on to the beach. They also bring in plastic bottles and pieces of rope and all sorts of broken bits of rubbish and food packaging. I once found a toothbrush flung on to the beach after a storm. I have even found a dirty nappy.
Illustration of litter and plastic on a beach, taken from The Wide, Wide Sea
Sometimes I sit high on the cliff and watch the sea raging below and I imagine it’s as angry as I am. I imagine that it’s sick of the way we humans are treating it. It’s gathering up all the rubbish and it’s hurling it back at the shore as if to say, “Take this disgusting litter away – stop throwing it into me!”
Sometimes I go down early in the morning to swim and there is a seal bobbing around in the bay. Last summer he was there every morning, and once he chased me back to shore, nudging my toes with his snout! I climbed out and sat watching him and wondered what he thought about me swimming in his home. Did he think of me as one of those humans who throws nasty plastic into the water? Or did he see me as just another animal, enjoying the water as he was? I think it was probably the latter, because the thing is, we are animals, you and I. We are mammals, like the seal. We have just as much right to be swimming in the sea as the seals do. But with that right comes the responsibility of looking after the sea. Seals don’t throw plastic straws and dirty cups and packaging into the water – we do.
Illustration of a seal bobbing in the waves, taken from The Wide, Wide Sea
Do you love the sea as much as I do? If you love something, you usually want to look after it. Have a think about this next time you come to the seaside. Bring your picnics and have a lovely day, but take your litter home with you. And if you see a seal, make him a promise – that you’ll keep the sea clean and safe for him – for all of us.
Five Ways You Can Help Save the Sea:
- Reduce your consumption of single-use plastics – if we stop buying them, there will be none to go to waste
- Reuse packaging instead of buying new – ice cream cartons make great picnic boxes, yoghurt pots are good for planting seeds, foil can be washed and used again
- Recycle responsibly – take litter to a recycling bank and never leave litter behind you on the beach
- Do a Two-Minute Beach Clean – bring a bag with you and walk up and down the tideline on the beach, picking up any bits of litter that you can find as you go, then recycle it when you get home
- Join a Bigger Beach Clean – there are many of these up and down the country, you can find clean-ups near you here.
Take a look inside the book below: