This 70-year-old Englishwoman is waging war on plastic waste on the beaches of Cornwall

·2-min read
Pat Smith at a trash pickup on Charleston's beaches

Pat Smith founded the association "The Final Straw" to clean up the beaches of Charlestown in Cornwall. She has also managed to raise awareness among the inhabitants of her village; plastic is gradually being abandoned in favor of recyclable or biodegradable materials. More on the initiative in our feature, "Protecting the planet one step at a time" in partnership with the NGO Energy Observer Solutions .

There is no age limit to taking action on behalf of the planet! Testament to that fact is 70-year-old Pat Smith, who is fighting to put an end to the plastic waste, which is polluting beaches and destroying marine life in Cornwall.

Each year, over 13 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans

For the past 50 years, global plastic consumption has risen by a factor of 20. One million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, but less than 10% of this plastic is correctly recycled. In the United Kingdom, there are over 3,000 pieces of waste per kilometer of beach. The county of Cornwall was one of the first regions to declare a state of climate emergency.

Pat Smith, a local protagonist in the ecological battle

At 70 years of age, Pat Smith has singlehandedly arranged for the removal of plastic waste from 52 Cornish beaches in the space of a year! Setting up The Final Straw association in Charlestown, on Cornwall's south coast, she organizes groups of volunteers to clean up the beaches. At the same time, the association is campaigning with local entrepreneurs to rid Cornwall of single-use plastic. Over 200 businesses have already joined the movement, and it is Pat's dream to ban plastic straws. An object that is commonplace in contemporary culture, it has become a major ecological scourge. Indeed, the single-use plastic straw cannot be recycled as it is too small. The European Union is set to ban its use by 2021.


Energy Observer is the name of the first hydrogen-powered, zero-emission vessel to be self-sufficient in energy, advocating and serving as a laboratory for ecological transition. Criss-crossing the oceans without air or noise pollution for marine ecosystems, Energy Observer sets out to meet women and men who devote their energy to creating sustainable solutions for a more harmonious world. Find out more: