And They Send You Nice Things Too!

By Bernie Bell

As someone in ‘Alice’ advised, I’ll begin at the beginning, go on to the end, then stop.  Our first experience with beach plastic in North Ronaldsay was, for us, a good one.  I like to find fishing flotsam on beaches and bring home my ‘treasures’. I place them about the garden – some in the house too.  In the garden they provide a bit of colour in the winter and – they’re round – I like round things.

A very positive side of this is, that we are also removing plastic from the beaches and the sea.  When the fishing floats get smashed they go into bits, then smaller bits and smaller bits – which can be swallowed by marine life and bird life. 

A few years ago we had a long weekend visiting North Ronaldsay as my birthday treat – and it was fishing flotsam heaven!  I suppose as there aren’t so many people there, not even as many visitors as to the Orkney Mainland, things get washed ashore and stay there. I started off on walks collecting up the crap-off-the-beach, gleefully. Then realised that we were getting the ‘plane back, and so my luggage would be limited. I chose my very favourite ones, including a red one – I’d not seen a red one before……

….and, reluctantly, had to leave behind quite a few of the ones I’d collected.

Since then, the ‘pick up three pieces’ scheme has taken off   and though it means there is less crap-off-the-beach for us scavengers, it’s a very good thing as it removes potentially dangerous detritus.

I am still gleeful when I do find a nice ‘round’, bring it home, and place it.

And then, I read in The Orkney News of a recent development taking place in North Ronaldsay, whereby the community are getting together to raise funds to establish a plastic re-cycling machine, meaning that the plastic waste can be turned into useful, and attractive, objects.

We donated, and found that – not only are we helping North Ronaldsay to keep it’s beaches clean, but the folk behind the scheme are going to send us a doormat too!  Made out of up-cycled plastic rope from the beaches, it should be hard-wearing.  One of the problems with plastic rope in the sea and on beaches is that it lasts – it takes a long, long time to go away.  A bad thing in harmful rubbish, a good thing in a doormat!

So, if you donate, depending on how much, they’ll send you nice things – coasters, a bowl, a mat…….

I realise that if I get to North Ronaldsay again, there might not be as many floats for me to collect – maybe these enterprising people might think of something to do with them?  Add them to the other bits & pieces to develop a ‘cottage industry’ based on re-cycled plastics?   Turn them into sculptures, as Fiona-As-Was-Next-Door did…..

‘Round Tower’ by Fiona Driver Pic by Fiona Driver

Fiona now lives near Beauly, and emailed me to say…..”Woke up, opened door…. there’s a pink float covered in Stromness poetry on the doorstep!

Yvonne Gray had hunted down my house and left it for me as a surprise on her way to the ferry…. isn’t that lovely!

It’s going to have pride of place in my rockery along with my other floats…”

‘Poetry in the Round’ pic by Fiona Driver

I think that’s a great idea – write poetry on floats, then display them.  Especially Orcadian poetry as a way of connecting, for Orcadians who now live elsewhere – or as a perfect souvenir of a visit to North Ronaldsay!

Related story: Innovative Project to Solve Plastic Pollution In North Ronaldsay

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