Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time, with Surfers Against Sewage estimating that marine plastic waste kills at least one sea mammal or sea bird every 30 seconds.
This World Oceans Day, we are celebrating Chloe Juyon, a woman on a mission to clean up our waterways. Chloe founded Clean Up Bristol Harbour in 2016 and organises a litter pick on the third Sunday of every month, with the next one scheduled for 16 June.
We met up with Chloe to find out what drives her, how many bags of litter she’s collected so far and why she’s contemplating rowing 3,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean.
1. Tell us, in 20 words or fewer, about Clean Up Bristol Harbour – what’s your mission?
To raise awareness about plastic pollution in our waterways and encourage people to value what makes Bristol so special – its harbour.
2. What drives you?
Making a difference, connecting people, getting people to engage with the harbour, raising awareness and inspiring people.
3. What is your greatest achievement to date?
Having had over 600 volunteers turn up since the start of Clean Up Bristol Harbour, who have helped collect over 400 bags of rubbish from in and around the harbour.
4. What are the challenges you face?
Uncertainty. Not knowing how many people are going to turn up each month!
Logistics. We try to give everyone the chance to go out on a boat but don’t always have enough. Thankfully, we have a lot of support from the local community, including the Harbour Office, Bristol Ferry Boats, Bristol City Council and Bristol Waste, to name a few (without forgetting our dedicated volunteers that join us come rain or shine!).
Manpower! There are just two of us running it and over the past two years, the number of volunteers and the demand for Clean Ups has grown. We have various ambitious projects we would like to push forward but we lack the manpower to take the next step.
5. What are you working on that’s getting you fired up and excited?
I am currently involved in a ‘once in a lifetime’ project which gives me the opportunity to bring two of my passions together.
I am part of The Bristol Gulls, a team of four women that will be taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in December 2020 – an ocean rowing race that involves crossing the Atlantic Ocean from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean.
Our goal is to make the crossing in the most sustainable way possible: from the boat itself to the food and other items we will be taking on board, and the kit we will be using. We are currently working with Rannoch Adventures, an ocean boat building company, and the National Composites Centre to look at materials and ways to build our boat using the most ecologically and environmentally friendly materials, which is really exciting – and yes, making sure it’s safe!
6. Where do you want to take Clean Up Bristol Harbour next?
The next stage for CUBH is to bring in the educational aspect by running more regular clean ups and teaching participants about littering and plastic pollution in our waterways. We have had requests from schools and corporates but we need to change we are currently set up to match these demands – something we are in the process of doing.
7. What can we, as individuals, do to make a difference?
There is a lot that one can do… it depends on how much time and effort you want to put in.
Listening, respecting, sharing and empathising with the people around you are all good ways to start.
I would say consuming less is a big one for me! We are surrounded by stuff and made to think we need it all, but do we?
I have a challenge for you: the next time you go shopping, I’d like you to ask yourself, for every single item you want to buy, “do I really need this?”. You might find it interesting how many times you will say “it would be nice to have xxx but actually do I really need it…?!”.
8. How is what you are doing inspiring change in others?
To be honest, I’m not sure… I hope that we do but you’d have to ask the people we impact what it is that we do that inspires change.
9. Can you recommend a life- or game-changing book for our readers?
There is one book which I devoured called ‘Cirque du Soleil: The Spark – Igniting the Creative Fire that Lives within Us All’. I remember feeling like anything was possible after finishing it!
10. What do you listen to when you’re cooking dinner?
I often dedicate my Sunday afternoon/evening to cooking for the week and it’s usually BBC Radio 2. Or sometimes, a little bit of jazz, a bit of electro swing, some old time classics… it very much depends what mood I’m in.
11. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t rush it, be patient… if you’ve done the work, put things into place, it will happen, when the time is right.
12. Can you leave us with who’d be your Eco Hero?
That’s a tough one but I have a close friend who is incredibly passionate and dedicated to living without plastic. Bear in mind she lives on a boat! Her passion and energy are just infectious. She raised her daughter that way and I think she will do great things in the future.
A keen rower, Chloe will be part of the all-female Bristol Gulls team tackling the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challengenext year, rowing 3,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean in a boat made from recycled plastic. If you would like to support their fundraising efforts, please visit their JustGiving page.