Emily is mad about rubbish, that it ends up in the sea and washed up on our beaches. Not content with just doing the odd beach clean, Emily is on a mission and has started Beach Guardian – a not for profit business with her dad Rob.
Long before David Attenborough put plastic waste into the nation’s conscience, from the age of 11 Emily was down the beach picking up what other people had left behind. A school art project creating something from what you can find at the beach led to Emily starting a Facebook campaign on beach litter, and continued with her doing a degree in marine biology.
She has just finished her degree with Plymouth University, where she made headlines for wearing a dress made from Walkers crisp packets she found at the beach for her graduation ceremony.
It was Blue Planet that really made everyone take an interest. Suddenly their regular beach cleans became very popular and Rob had the idea to set up a social enterprise where Emily could use her education to develop a business.
Rob met Mark from the Growth Hub to discuss the next steps.
“I met Mark for a coffee and a chat about things; the consensus was we should become a community interest company. If you have never done it before, setting up a company was mind boggling, so it was great to have some help to get that achieved.”
Mark also recommended support from Engine Room and School of Social Entrepreneurs, who help social enterprises and community interest companies to get started.
“I did some training which was invaluable, as it was all about how to think about your business, set yourself objectives, how to communicate what your business is about and help you apply for grants. Also, how to make your business sustainable because you can’t rely on grants forever.”
“All that gave us a great footing to get the business up and running as soon as possible.”
Rob and Emily have secured some grants and have raised money though crowdfunding to get them off the ground. This will help them to hit their target of engaging with 2000 volunteers in their first year and they have already done half that.
But these volunteers are just for the beach cleans explains Emily, “It doesn’t include all the schools we have been to, the conferences and events. We have had such great engagement and support, we have reached 35,000 people on social media just in the last week.”
Emily and Rob’s plan is looking at all angles. From campaigning in the Houses of Parliament for Keep Britain Tidy, to going local and speaking to school children about how they can reduce their impact on the environment. Their aim is to speak in every school in Cornwall to get the message out about changing lifestyles, to reduce plastic use and increase recycling.
They also want to educate businesses, to help them reduce the use of plastic in their products, and they are not afraid to take on household names like Nissan to introduce simple things that will make a big difference. Something they want to speak to local business about too.
Rob and Emily are just on their first steps of their enterprise but they have already made a big impact, with environmental missions turned into a full time business they hope to turn the tide against taking our planet for granted.