Lonely Planet Writer

One 10-year-old Dublin girl is passionately leading a beach cleaning project in her hometown

For the past few months, one environmentally-conscious ten-year-old girl from Sandycove in Dublin, Ireland has been leading a passionate fight to clean up the sand and water at her local beach.

Flossie with a bouquet that she found during a beach clean. Image by Flossie and the Beach Cleaners

The idea to begin a weekly clean-up at her local beach first came to Flossie Donnelly last summer. “I live by the sea at a famous place called the Forty Foot and I swim in the sea every day after school. I started to see rubbish everywhere, I used to dive in to pick it up and bring it back to the bins at the beach, and then I would see rubbish at the beach and in the rocks, and I know what happens to marine life, they can be poisoned by rubbish that is thrown in the sea. Where we live there are loads of seals, there is also octopuses and fish and crabs and lobsters and probably loads more, so that was what inspired me to stop the sea life being poisoned,” Flossie told Lonely Planet Travel News.

Sandycove in Dublin, Ireland.
Sandycove in Dublin, Ireland. Image by Artur Widak / NurPhoto

Emboldened to do something about it, Flossie began a campaign to encourage people in her area to assist with the beach clean-up. “I made a poster and then me, Mummy and my friend Anna hung them around the area, but sadly no one came. I was really sad, but the next day I was down at the Forty Foot and a local councillor was there and he gave me his business card and told me to email him,” Flossie said. The councillor advised Flossie to contact media, with some newspapers picking up her story, as well as Ireland’s national radio station RTÉ.

A car battery found by Flossie during a cleaning session. Image by Flossie and the Beach Cleaners

As well as organising the local clean-ups, Flossie has been documenting her experiences on her personal blog, Flossie and the Beach Cleaners. Having built up a following at home in Ireland for her environmental efforts, Flossie is now planning to speak to a school in Krabi, Thailand via Skype in January in the hopes of organising a joint beach-cleaning session in both countries on the same day. “My next plan with the project is I am raising money to get the first seabin in Ireland, and to continue writing my blog so that I can raise awareness around the world and hopefully inspire children like me to clean the beach and stop poisoning the sea because it’s actually really fun!”

So far the beach clean-ups have unearthed thousands of plastic bottles and cans, as well as objects such as toasters, tyres, microwaves and socks. Flossie even found a message in a bottle sent from a girl in Australia the same age as her, and the two now correspond via email every day.

More information on Flossie’s beach-cleaning initiative is available on her personal blog.