Beach clean volunteer from Peckham turns washed up plastic from the Thames into greetings cards

News Desk (14 October, 2020)

'By spreading awareness of plastic pollution in this fun and engaging way will hopefully show people that little actions do make a difference and they make you feel good'

39589Flora with some of the plastic she has collected from the Thames' beaches

A crafty woman from Peckham has used her time on furlough to make greeting cards from plastic washed up on the River Thames, writes Simon Throssell…

Flora Blathwayt was inspired to start ‘Washed Up Cards’ after taking part in a beach clean by London Bridge last year. At a clean, each volunteer is given a big refuse sack, a litter picker, and a patch to tidy. After the event, Flora decided to keep some of the microplastics she found, debris usually the size of a fingernail, and use them to make a special wedding card for her sister.

She told the News: “My sister had been living plastic-free for a couple of years and I was like, ‘Wow, how has she managed to do this?’

“I decided not to give her a shop-bought card in plastic packaging, but make my own with the washed-up plastic I picked up instead.

“She and her husband loved it and I continued to make them for friends and family and my own enjoyment for about a year.”

one of Flora’s cards

When the lockdown hit and Flora was furloughed, she also discovered the positive impact making the cards had on her mental health. She would weave in a quick run down to the riverside during her daily exercise and spend the evenings crafting ‘Happy Birthday’, ‘Thank you’ and ‘Good luck’ greeting cards.

“I have had a tough six months and I found that getting up in the morning with a purpose and feeling like I was doing something for the environment was therapeutic.

“I’m reading a book about the special power of water and how looking at it and immersing yourself in it is very soothing. I want to continue to explore this link between nature and therapy further.”

Flora set up her Etsy page in May and sales have gone from strength to strength, with punny messages such as “Get whale soon” and “Ewe are the best” being among the most popular.

She has collaborated with the sustainable toilet paper company ‘Who Gives a Crap?’ whose funky packaging is used to wrap her cards. Behind the scenes, she is looking to organise socially distant beach cleans and is also in talks with large retailers.

“I was shocked to hear from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish unless the industry cleans up its act.

“Really it’s not just about the cards and the plastic that I collect because, in the grand scheme of things, it’s very nominal.

“But I think by spreading awareness of plastic pollution in this fun and engaging way will hopefully show people that little actions do make a difference and they make you feel good.”

www.instagram.com/washedupcards/

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