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Lessons From Picking Up Other People’s Plastic For 12 Months

Kay Newton Images November 2022

Simplicity & Connection Thought Leader –  Kay Newton

I cannot believe a whole 12 months have passed!

Counting Plastic Waste:

With the help of a group of other amazing women, EXXpedition and Connection, I have been beach cleaning, collecting, and counting plastic waste. In addition, the statistics have been collated and a report is in the making. I can happily confirm we human beings are a terrible blight upon the earth.

My home is in a small fishing village located on the Mediterranean sea. The fishing industry has almost ended, yet our small village beach and the national park nearby make it a popular destination for tourists and residents alike.

However, over the past twenty years, the population in Mallorca has doubled and again doubles during the summer season. Our village follows the island’s trend.

“I can happily confirm we human beings are a terrible blight upon the earth.”

The strain of humanity is beginning to show, not only are there shortages of water, but waste is also an issue. It is not until you measure rubbish over a period of time, do you become aware of the issues at hand. Our regular cleaning, collection, and counting have confirmed that we have work to do. 


One of the biggest pollutants on our small, non-smoking beach is cigarette butts. Please read that again. We collected over 4,500 butts, which may not sound a lot, yet for 420 sqm it is quite significant. 

Worldwide, six trillion cigarettes are smoked annually and 75% of these end up in the environment. In other words. these butts are highly toxic and take four hundred years to degrade in saltwater, yet the plastic fibres from the filter remain in the water as microplastic forever.

The simple solution is to stop smoking, yet it is not that straightforward. Locally we need to work together to avoid butts reaching the sea. We also have to work with local businesses and target manufacturers to find a new solution.

Bottle Tops:

It is not until you begin to pick up kilos and kilos of bottle tops do you begin to question – where are the plastic bottles? It is the realization that probably at some time these tops were attached to a bottle which has long since disintegrated and become microplastic in the water. 

Moreover, microplastic is often ingested by sea creatures, and when we eat them we also ingest plastic. Plastic in the body, like in the ocean is never eliminated, we pass it on to our children and our children’s children. 

“It is thought there are now more face masks in our oceans and seas than there are jellyfish.”

We are often not aware of the plastic body burden we hold until it is too late. Microplastics have recently been discovered in human breast milk for the first time, yet we do not know what this will mean for the future. 

Other Stuff:

The twelve-month survey has allowed us to see trends. For example, discarded face masks became less when Covid19 restrictions were eased. It is thought there are now more face masks in our oceans and seas than there are jellyfish. 

In addition, we found many unusual objects, yet for me, the one that astounded the most was the number of earbud sticks we collected. Do people really clean their ears whilst on the beach? Even though single-use plastic is banned here in the Baleares, we collected over five hundred plastic sticks. 

We have still to find a diamond ring, Rolex watch, or Ming Vase. Every day we hope to find such a treasure which will help to fund our cleaning efforts further.

plastic art
Kay Newton’s Art, Photo Credit: Jack Perez

Next Steps – Creating Plastic Art:

Our amazing group of women are no longer hoarding rubbish to count each month. Storing was also hazardous to our own health. We still clean weekly and place our finds on Instagram. Please come and follow us there. https://www.instagram.com/colonianeta/ 

“A gallery in London has also expressed interest. “

We also keep some treasures for creating plastic art which we sell to fund our passion for the environment and to alert others to the plastic issue. Our art has been shown at local fairs with interest from schools and community organisations. A gallery in London has also expressed interest. 

The Plastic report we are creating, from our twelve months’ collection, will be sent to local authorities, the media, industry, and other bodies. 

Together we can begin to change our habits and thought processes. We are always strongest as a collective. Together we can initiate change. 

Plastic Art
Kay Newton’s Art, Photo Credit: Jack Perez

Way You Can  Help:

In conclusion, if you have read this far, you may not live near the sea or ocean, yet you too can help the planet’s plastic issue. There are three simple steps.

  • When you see plastic in the environment pick it up. 
  • Avoid plastic period. 
  • Pass the message on. 

Take a look at this document to start the process in your home. 2021- 2050 Our Home Agreement Against Plastic 

Moreover, iIf you would like a copy of the report when it is published, to know more about plastic or have your own thoughts and ideas, please get in touch and let’s start a worldwide Kuel movement. 

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Kay Newton

About the Author:

Kay is the founder of Midlife Strategies, an award-winning International Speaker, and enthusiastic author. She is an acknowledged expert guiding women to find their mojo, through the Midlife Squeeze.

Kay’s books include: 

Today, Kay lives a simple life next to a beach in Mallorca, Spain. You can find Kay here: www.KayNewton.com.