Earth Day: Meet the couple from Whitley Bay who strive for a better planet every day

Today is Earth Day - and around the world, we are being encouraged to think more about the planet and how we can help combat climate change.  

A couple from Whitley Bay have made it their mission. Their hobby is to make bracelets from some of the discarded fishing rope they find, with donations helping towards marine conservation.

Ben Gilbert and Kirsty Wood met on a beach clean and went on to launch 'North Sea Rejects' repurposing fishing gear into bracelets, and sending 75% of the profits back to marine conservation charities.

Credit: North Sea Rejects

During lockdown, many of us have made the most of our beautiful beaches, but sadly they are not always staying that way - with pictures often shared on social media of huge levels of rubbish being left behind on the sand.

Kirsty Wood from North Sea Rejects, said: "When we see people getting up and leaving their litter behind, it is a struggle. Our ethos is, you wouldn't do this in your own back garden and this planet is our home, so why wouldn't you keep it clean?"

Her partner Ben Gilbert echoed this, saying, "We've got amazing wildlife here, seals, whales, dolphins, porpoises, that you can see quite regularly - so it's really sad because as soon as this rubbish ends up on the beach, it gets swept straight into the sea, straight into the general habitat of those animals."

Every minute

one rubbish truck of waste enters the ocean

Doubled

how much litter on U.K. beaches has increased in 20 years

Just the other morning, I was out on the beach in Filey, North Yorkshire, and I found a can from 1996. That was a quarter of century ago. All these items last a long time, and stick around in marine environments, where they risk injuring our wildlife. If we get legislation for something like a deposit return system for drinks receptacles, it would encourage recycling, and we'd see less waste on the shore.

Matt Barnes, Marine Conservation Society

Speaking about their project, 'North Sea Rejects', Ben said: "One of the key drivers for us, that was we had a lot of plans that were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, to go away and help with marine conservation projects around the world. So we really wanted to try and use the money we made from this to try and support some of those projects."

These are really small projects, many community led and they've been hit really hard by the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of their support comes from people going to volunteer their time and giving their money, and with this, we can see directly how that money helps them save marine species.

Kirsty Gilbert, North Sea Rejects