A 15-year-old environmental activist from Dublin has been hailed as Ireland’s own Greta Thunberg.
Flossie Donnelly and her mother Harriet start a marine environmental charity Flossie and the beach cleaners when Flossie was 12 years old.
Flossie, who at just 11 gave a TED talk on fighting plastic pollution, has been compared to 19-year-old Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who started her world-famous ‘school strike for climate’ movement four years ago.
Flossie, who is also involved in school strikes and protests outside the Irish parliament, Dáil Éireann, said she felt more action was crucial after seeing so much rubbish on the beach during a holiday in Thailand.
She said: ‘I don’t want my generation to suffer for the actions of our parents’ generation.’
Flossie Donnelly (left) and her mother Harriet (right) established the marine environmental charity Flossie and the Beach Cleaners when Flossie was 12 years old.
Flossie (pictured with her mother Harriet) regularly participates in school strikes, cleans up beaches and has protested outside the Irish parliament Dáil Éireann
Greta Thunberg (on the left in London this year and on the right protesting during the school strikes in Sweden last year) is known for challenging world leaders on their action against climate change and pollution.
He explained that when he went to the beach, he couldn’t leave without picking up as much trash as he could. But he realized that it took more than one person to make a real difference.
Back home he noticed more and more rubbish being washed up on the beach and managed to raise enough money to provide the first Seabins in Ireland.
The mother-daughter pair, along with their army of enthusiastic volunteers, are passionate about saving Ireland’s waters and marine life from the growing problem of plastic pollution.
Flossie’s mother, Harriet, said she is incredibly proud of her daughter’s strength and determination to make a change.
She told MailOnline: ‘Flossie has been called ‘The Irish Greta’, which I know she finds great honor. Personally, I am beyond proud of Flossie. she never gives up her fight for the planet and she’s always so positive when it’s so easy to be negative.
“I think it’s amazing how young women like Flossie and Greta, and so many other climate activists around the world, can inspire so many people, not just children but also adults, to stand up for the planet.”
The mother-daughter pair have been fighting plastic pollution in Ireland alongside volunteers from the charity.
Along with their army of enthusiastic volunteers, Harriet and Flossie take part in regular beach cleanups, including their annual Big Weigh In, which brought up a ton of rubbish from the beaches of Ireland.
Through regular beach clean-up and primary and secondary school workshops, they aim to make a real difference to Ireland’s environment while also educating children in a fun and stress-free way.
Flossie, who leads an annual beach cleanup in Ireland, said: “Our planet is covered in over 70% water and we are doing everything we can to slow down climate change.
“It may be small for most people, but if everyone chose some small act to help stop climate change, it would help the planet, and you feel great for trying.”
He added that despite his young age, his generation are the ones “going to fix climate change” and should not be ignored.
We will continue to protest [change] and make noise until the children are heard, we cannot be ignored and this is our future.’
This year’s Big Weigh In saw a tonne of rubbish collected by over 500 volunteers across 26 regions of Ireland.
Some of this year’s rare finds included an ‘adult toy’, a car bumper, and men’s underwear.
Flossie added: “It’s scary to have to think about climate change and what happens if it doesn’t work out.
“I try to always stay positive when I’m cleaning the beach or going on strike for the weather, but sometimes it’s really scary.
“Then I remember that I am not alone, no one is, but if Covid can teach us anything, it is that working together as a united world we can solve anything.”
The 15-year-old added that education about the environment and climate change is sorely lacking around the world.
‘You can always go on a climate strike to get the word out, and by going on strike you can always meet some like-minded people who are also concerned about our beautiful planet.
Through regular beach cleanups and workshops at primary and secondary schools, they aim to make a real difference to Ireland’s environment. Pictured: Action figures found on a clean beach
The charity also aims to educate children in a fun and stress-free way about how to care for the planet and the environment around them.
‘There are schools in Indonesia on the front lines of climate change and we are working with them to save the planet.
“But with things like small plastic containers, they throw everything into the sea or burn it. These kids are not educated about what is going on.
Harriet said the Covid-19 pandemic was eye opening.
‘The planet is suffering from its own pandemic. Our rapidly changing climate is a symptom. The world is still doing everything it can to tackle Covid-19, but unfortunately climate change will take much longer to figure out.
“As an environmental charity, we have experienced first-hand how much additional pollution has been created during the pandemic. As the world opened up again, we saw a dramatic increase in take-out plastic bottles and cups.
“We live in a throwaway culture, cigarette butts used to be a problem, but now we find disposable vaporizers on every clean beach…they generally do more damage than cigarette butts.”
To raise money this year, the charity set up a ‘cheeky’ calendarwith models posing with items found in beach cleanups or pulled from Irish waters.
Harriet said: ‘We always try to make a negative climate change situation a positive. It’s to keep people smiling.
‘We wanted to highlight what we cleaned. Everything on the calendar is beach cleanups, like bikes washed up on rocks.
‘We wanted to highlight how beautiful Ireland is and let people know about the charity and what we found.
‘We want people to take baby steps. Once you get past the fun side, you realize what’s on our beaches,” Harriet said.
The charity has created a cheeky calendar, in which brave nude models pose with items found in the seas and inland waters of Ireland.