I developed Environmentalist for my final year project. It is a news website revolving around the environment and sustainability, with a focus on the local people working hard to protect our planet.

One aim of this website was to raise awareness about environmental issues, and show the effects of them on a local level. However, I am proud that Environmentalist maintained a positive outlook on the situation, shining a light on the good things that people are doing to help.

Please find examples of this work below.



Jo Yaldren picks up litter on Saltburn beach along with her sidekick, Pepper.

Plastic bags, food wrappers, bottles and tampon applicators – these items and more can all be found littering beaches throughout the country and beyond. But they are not only an eyesore, as they are also having a devastating impact on sea pollution and marine wildlife.

A report from The Great British Beach Clean 2020 found that volunteers discovered an average of 425 pieces of litter per 100m of UK shoreline. That’s more than 6,800 items per mile.

So where does it all come from?

According to Surfers Against Sewage, two-thirds of the plastic pollution comes from litter being dropped on the beach, rivers, drains, industry spills or being flushed down the toilet. The rest is usually from ship containers getting lost at sea.

This debris causes vast problems for marine wildlife.

Figures from the United Nations suggest that 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and one million sea birds are killed by plastic pollution each year, as well as huge numbers of fish.

They can become entangled in pieces of plastic and litter, which often impacts their natural instincts in terms of finding food, resting and mating and the animals die slowly.

And microplastics, tiny fragments of plastic also known as nurdles, pose huge problems as well.

Marine birds and other animals can mistake these for food and ultimately ingest dangerous amounts of plastic. This results in starvation as the animals feel full and stop feeding altogether.

But the presence of microplastics is not only limited to marine wildlife. Research by the American Chemical Society found that microplastics can also be detected in human tissues.

People can even pick up litter while they are out on a walk.

The Marine Conservation Society, the UK’s leading charity for marine protection, has worked for over thirty years to raise awareness about the issues resulting from beach littering and sea pollution.

Their work has brought about huge changes in the single-use plastic industries.

Matt Barnes, from The Marine Conservation Society, said: “We have advocated for change which has led to charges for single-use bags, removal of microbeads in personal care products, changes in labelling on commonly ‘mis-flushed’ items, and a deposit return system being designed for Scotland.

“All of the evidence to support these legislative advances has come from our Beachwatch marine litter monitoring program.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Marine Conservation Society and without them our capacity would be greatly reduced.

“Where council-led beach cleansing efforts are stretched, having dependable and empowered volunteers is often the only way to mitigate high-density litter levels and prevent injuries to people and wildlife alike.”

This is why organisations like Keeping it Clean at Saltburn (KICAS) are so crucial in the fight against sea pollution. They are made up of volunteers from all walks of life with one common mission – to keep our beaches clean.

Before coronavirus prevented large groups meeting up outdoors, KICAS were, at times, a 130-strong team armed with litter pickers and bin bags.

Following the government guidelines, their work has not stopped, as they continue to work individually.

Environmentalist caught up with Jo Yaldren and her four-legged friend, Pepper, from the KICAS crew to find out more.

These volunteers never blame the people dropping the litter. They choose to focus on the positive actions of individuals working to look after our environment.

Jo Yaldren transforms some of the pieces she finds into beautiful pieces of jewellery, which she sells on her Etsy shop, The Tinkerist.

She even donates half of her profits to The 2 Minute Foundation, a charity who campaign for clean beaches and encourage people to spend just two minutes picking up litter.

They have over 900 stations throughout the UK and Ireland, which provide a litter picker and bag for people to borrow. This has encouraged more people to take part.

Nick Noble, from Saltburn Surf School, said: “Beach litter is a huge, cumulative problem because it builds up.

“We’ve been aware of it since the eighties when we opened up.

“It’s something that we’ve been dealing with for years and will continue to be dealing with for many more.

“There just seems to be a never-ending amount of litter to cope with.

“People spend a lot of time picking it up and keeping it clean and that work is appreciated by everybody.”

Nick Noble from Saltburn Surf School supports the important work carried out by volunteers.

Thanks to their hard work, Saltburn beach has now been awarded a Blue Flag status.

This guarantees visitors that the beach is clean, has good facilities and a high standard of water cleanliness.

And KICAS is just one of the huge numbers of beach clean volunteer groups, as around the country communities are working tirelessly to protect marine wildlife and the natural beauty of the British coast by picking up litter.

So what can we do to help?

The best thing is to make sure we take all our rubbish away with us while we’re out and about.

We should also try to limit the amount of plastic we use wherever possible.

And, of course, we can pick up any bits we find using protective gloves or a litter picker.

Contact Keeping it Clean at Saltburn or your local group to join a beach clean, or you can start one yourself.





British Divers Marine Life Rescue volunteer attends to seal pup callout.

A seal pup was found with monofilament fishing wire stuck around its face and cutting into its neck last week, but a Marine Mammal Medic attended a callout to it again after members of the public were worried about its wound.

A medic had removed the marine debris when the seal pup was originally found.

It was estimated to be stuck around its neck for at least a month.

As a result, the animal was seriously underweight as the entanglement affected its feeding habits and natural instincts.

The seal was left with a one inch deep wound when the wire was removed.

The seal pup had a large cut around its neck where the fishing wire had been.

Members of the public were worried about the seal which was laid on the beach again after seeing the deep cut around its neck.

The animal was attracting a lot of attention from dogs, who could have harmed the seal or have been harmed themselves.

A volunteer from British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) attended the callout to check on the seal pup.

Col Stonehouse, the fast-acting volunteer from BDMLR, said: “We’ve had eight entanglements where we’ve been based and down the coast, with four at large at the moment.

“You just don’t know how many are out there entangled because there is just so much discarded fishing gear.

“Where the seals are born as well we’ve had a lot of footfall and there’s been a lot of disturbance, which disrupts the feeds.

“These seals are born between 9kg and 13kg and they’re reliant on the mum for the first 3 weeks.

“The seal has to be fed between five and six times a day and if they miss one of those feeds, 1% of their body fat quickly diminishes.

“The weight that this seal pup has is not enough to keep itself insulated.”

Now that the seal has been freed from the fishing wire, it will be able to feed better.

Col said: “That wound won’t heal fully, the seal will have a massive scar but at least his oesophagus isn’t trapped so that he can now maintain a healthier diet.

“We ask the public to report entanglements and send medics straight out to them.”

Fortunately the seal went safely back into the sea later in the day.

Col Stonehouse has volunteered with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue since last September, when he was trained as a Marine Mammal Medic.

BDMLR ‘provide assistance to any aquatic (marine and freshwater) animal’ who needs help.

They train over 1,000 volunteer Marine Mammal Medics each year, who work to help the animals.

According to the website, last year alone they attended 1,658 seal callouts.

Fishing equipment and plastic pollution cause huge problems for sea wildlife such as seals.

Fishing gear is a well known cause of marine wildlife injuries and entanglements.

Organisations such as the Marine Conservation Society as well as local group are organising beach cleans to pick up some of the discarded debris.

Stephen Smith, from The Big World Clean Up, said: “The Big World Clean Up started when I was diving and seeing what it was like under the water.

“I knew I needed to do something about it so I started doing litter picks around the area.

“It makes me sick to be human really but the only thing you can do is fight back and keep doing what you’re doing.

“For me it feels like a losing battle until you get the government on board. That’s when things will start to change.”

Stephen Smith runs The Big World Clean Up and works hard to dispose of marine debris to prevent entanglement.

Stephen is a diver, and he hopes to join the Ghost Diving Foundation in order to remove lost fishing gear which is having a huge impact on marine wildlife.

If you spot a seal on the beach which looks injured or wounded you should contact British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 01825 765 546.

Their hotline is available around the clock, year round.

You should maintain a safe distance and keep all children and dogs away as seals can sometimes act aggressively when they are defensive.

You can use What 3 Words so that the volunteers can find the precise location of the injured or entangled animal.




Tracy Reeve has dreamed of opening a shop like this since she was a child.

The Cut Back is a brand new one-stop shop for all things sustainable, and is the first of its kind to open in Saltburn.

They sell dried foods, cleaning products, soaps and much more and they are even planning on bringing in some gin.

The refill stations allow customers to bring in containers of all shapes and sizes to collect products and erase the need for single-use plastics in the form of packaging.

Tracy Reeve, owner of The Cut Back, said: “It’s been a dream of mine to run something like this for a long time. I’ve always been interested in sustainability.

“Even when I was a little girl I was growing vegetables in the garden so I didn’t have to go to the shop and buy them in plastic bags.

“I’ve always had a connection with nature and the thought of hurting nature and damaging the environment is completely inconceivable to me.

“Having children as well and thinking of passing this damage onto them and their children is just heartbreaking.”

The refill stations line the walls, holding all kinds of dried foods.

After being made redundant at the start of the first lockdown, Tracy knew that she needed to open the shop.

Tracy said: “I’m going to do everything I can and give it everything I’ve got to make a success out of this and do what I can to help the planet, and to help other people help the planet too.

“There’s no capitalism involved, it’s just about supporting this industry to try and get a shop like this in every town.

“That’s what we want. We want everyone to be able to walk down to their local shop with their reusable bags and containers.

“It’s not about making a fortune, it’s about making a difference.”

Covid-19 guidelines have allowed The Cut Back to open during the pandemic due to selling essential products, but they have put precautions in place to keep shoppers safe.

The Cut Back sells all kinds of environmentally-friendly products.

The premises once known as The Restoratory, an alternative health centre, were ‘a bit of a building site’ when Tracy first took over, but she has transformed the shop into a beautiful space and community hub with the help of her family and husband, John.

“The support has been amazing and that’s so heart-warming because when you look at environmental news it seems to be just one disaster and catastrophe after the other, but actually there are a lot of people doing a lot to help the planet and that restores your faith in humanity.

“Doing this has introduced me to so many of those amazing people,” Tracy added.

Tracy is overwhelmed by the amount of support she has received from locals since the start of her journey.

The Cut Back also plans to host community meetings and workshops in their eco-hub.

Tracy said: “I really want it to be a place for people to come to for everything environmental.

“I want all the local environmental groups to get involved and put on eco-friendly product workshops.

“I want it to be a really nice, welcoming space that’s inviting for everyone and totally inclusive so that people feel welcome to come in, even just for a mooch.”

You can find The Cut Back on Dundas Street in Saltburn.



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