The problem of plastic – young volunteer wins National Youth Marine Conservation Award

The problem of plastic – young volunteer wins National Youth Marine Conservation Award

Josh Drake receives National Youth Marine Conservation Award

Research shows that if just one person in every four takes up a cause, this can be enough to change the minds and behaviour of the majority. We are celebrating one young volunteer who has done just that at Trimley Marshes nature reserve.

Josh Drake spent many hours clearing plastic litter and even checking soil sieved from Trimley foreshore with a pair of tweezers, counting 1517 plastic nurdles. He has a jar of over a thousand pieces of micro plastics, which he has kept to show the scale of the issue and how it all adds up to such a problem for marine animals.  

During the Covid19 lockdown, Josh was shocked by the quantity of plastic waste he saw when he and his mother were taking their exercise walk at Trimley, and instead of just walking by he took it upon himself to clear it up. This was no small task, the rubbish along the tide line was a thick tangle of fishing line, rope, plastic sheets, bags and bottles; much of it degraded so it shredded into smaller and smaller fragments as they cleared it. Some of the plastic had become entwined amongst the grasses and plants, and it was a delicate process to safely remove it.  

Litter pick at Trimley Marshes

Josh with plastic he cleared from Trimley Marshes shoreline

In September 2020 Josh also organised a special foreshore litter cleanup in dedication to a young Eco-warrior and beach clean campaigner from Australia who tragically died before his 12th birthday.  

This summer Josh was awarded the Marsh Young Volunteer Award for Marine Conservation  in recognition of his hard work. You can read more about Josh and the Award here.

Josh feels very strongly that people need to reconsider their plastic use: “It’s terrible and very sad that there is so much plastic on the reserve, which is polluting the habitats of the birds and wildlife there. The ground is covered in nurdles and micro plastics that can be eaten by the birds and it will eventually kill them. I feel that the Docks and nearby companies need to take more care and responsibility for handling plastic safely and deal with any spillages straight away. It would also be better if everyone could use much less plastic so that nature stands a better chance of surviving.” 

Josh's Mum, Carol reflected on his effort: “‘The idea of wanting to clear the litter was his, and he's worked incredibly hard there. We all support and help him, but helping the environment was his idea he started just over a year ago, and he's done so much good. He's also deeply inspired me along the way’.  

Andrew Excell, Site Manager at Trimley Marshes, was thrilled: “What a fantastic effort. As you know, the tide strandline harbours so much plastic waste in a concentrated zone, and clearing this zone is a fiddly business. I know only too well the feeling of trying to pick up UV-degraded plastic wrapping only to find it almost perpetually crumbling into smaller pieces! A lot of patience is required for sure.” 

Suffolk Wildlife Trust sends big congratulations to Josh on his great achievement and well-deserved award. We hope his actions will inspire other young people to take action to help wildlife and the environment. 

Find ways you can help wildlife in your local area. 

Josh Drake National Youth Marine Conservation Award

Josh Drake receives National Youth Marine Conservation Award