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Words by Emily Stevenson

It was our first beach clean after the initial relaxation of lockdown rules; everything had changed, but some things remained very much the same. It was the first time in over a year we had seen some of our volunteers, our friends. We all cautiously and distantly walked onto the beach with our eyes transfixed on the high tide point, waiting to feel that euphoric moment of collecting your first piece of plastic. I remember looking up for a moment at the other volunteers, and then out to sea. As I faced the horizon and breathed it in, one of our volunteers stood beside me and said something I will never forget: “As you face the ocean and look out at its vastness, all of your problems and all of your stress are both physically and mentally behind you. All of your deadlines, all of your debts, all of your desperation is literally on the land behind you, and in front of you is one big, beautiful, hopeful ocean”

This is a feeling I carry with me every time I’m cleaning the beach or exploring nature. My connection to nature is what I owe everything to. All of my successes come from the inspiration I take from the natural world. All of my joy or happiness and the trauma or sadness I have overcome has been because of nature. I share this connection with so many others, which is why we must now do all we can to preserve it and to ensure green and blue spaces are accessible to all, especially young people suffering with mental health issues and eco-anxiety.

At Beach Guardian, we strive to empower communities to tackle plastic waste. To preserve and protect our coastline here in Cornwall, for both people and planet.

Beach Guardian is an award-winning community interest company based in Padstow. If you would like to join Beach Guardian, details can be found on their Facebook page. Alternatively, you can email



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