An environmentalist and runner will visit Kent next month (June) with his UK-wide awareness campaign of the harm plastic is doing to our seas.
Luke Douglas-Home, known as ‘The Coastline Runner,’ will be running from Folkestone to Hythe on World Ocean Day – Thursday 8th June continuing his run around the UK’s coastline.
Started in November 2021, Kent will be the 30th leg of the challenge, taking him up to the 600km mark, having already completed half or full marathon sections from Suffolk to Northumberland.
Since starting the initiative in 2021, Luke has run over 550km, and collected more than 500kg of plastic rubbish from the shoreline – he aims to collect a tonne.
During his visits, he also engages, advises and promotes what local initiatives and authorities are doing to reduce plastic pollution of our seas.
The activity started as a one man mission, to overcome frustrations over the lack of efficacy and impact of COP 26 and has turned into a growing initiative with immediate results on reducing plastic pollution of our seas.
His runs involve him meeting with school children to litter pick from the beaches and shorelines, talking to local communities, and urging local leaders from businesses, councils and county authorities, to find out about their awareness and strategies for preventing rubbish from entering our oceans.
He’s even been joined by local reporters and people from the community who have run with him in support and made a change to how they look after the sea.
This has included the owner of an ice-cream van in Yorkshire who decided to no longer provide plastic spoons to his customers, given where they were likely to end up.
He’s also influenced a fish shop to stop using polystyrene food containers for people buying their fish and chips, even though it came at a cost to the business.
Henry Marsh – neurosurgeon and running partner
Luke will be joined on the run by retired NHS neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, 73, who will travel to meet him from his London home on one of Luke’s south coast runs.
Also a cancer survivor, Henry, during his career, pioneered a type of neurosurgery when the patient is still awake.
He’s also spent time teaching and operating in Nepal and Ukraine.
He’s previously described climate change as a ‘nightmare’ and shares Luke’s passion for making a change.
School children – the next generation joining the campaign
The Kent leg will see him run 12km, meeting with two schools along the way; St Eanswythe’s C of E Primary School, Folkstone and then onto Seabrook C Of E Primary School.
Pupils from both schools will help Luke to collect 30 pieces of rubbish at each beach location he is meeting them at.
And they are likely to find some – in 2022 as part of the Great British Beach Clean, 178kg was removed from Folkestone.
Plastics that enter the sea can get tangled round turtles, stuck in old fishing gear, are ingested by birds and kill marine life.
He will then run to Princes Parade Historic Landfill, ending at West Hythe Quarry – a landfill decommissioned in 1993.
A passion for eradicating pollution
A chartered environmentalist by day at his London-based CIC A Future without Rubbish, Luke works with businesses and schools to minimise their waste, better use resources and help them meet reduction, recycling and reuse targets.
His epic UK coastal run is not only a personal challenge, but an extension of his passion for reaching people with his message to stop wrecking our environment with pollution – alongside sharing how they can help.
He said: “We must do something, and do something now about the pollution of our seas.
“Unlike other pollution, we can see it, experience it and understand it. You can’t argue with dead animals – we humans are responsible.
“We can all do something small that makes such a big difference – simply by not leaving our rubbish on our beaches, foreshores and coastlines, or picking it up when we see it – even if it isn’t ours.
“Sea pollution is mainly from ‘BBBP’ – bags, butts, bottles and packaging. Intentional fly tipping and the possibility of vulnerable leaching historic landfills are the other two foreshore pollutants that pose a real risk to our seas too.
“All of which can be remedied by us humans.
“We’re in Kent on World Ocean Day – this year’s Conservation Action Focus is to protect 30% of our planet’s lands, waters, and ocean by 2030.
“But to do it, we all need to be aware and do something regularly, so we must raise awareness, educate and instigate action from individuals, schools, communities, businesses and local authorities.
“The reason I invite people on the runs, meet with schools and start conversations with people in the areas I run in, is to start achieving this.
“Good foreshore management that helps to reduce plastic pollution of the sea is very dependent on a close working relationship between councils, schools, businesses and the community.”
Work to be done
Luke visited Kent – running from Dungeness to Folkestone, last October to start assessing the Kent coast situation – looking for crucial ‘binfrastructure’ and signage which reduces plastics from making their way to the sea.
He said: “I’ll be speaking to the local leaders about what more can be done to help reduce the amount of plastic that goes into the sea – there are some quick and easy ways, such as strategically placed bins and signage about where to take your waste, but also longer-term work too.”
Only last month, a crisp packet thought to date back to the 1960s was found washed up on a beach in Great Yarmouth – highlighting how long plastic can last for and pose a threat to the ecosystems.
BBC Radio Kent – interview on the breakfast show on the morning of the run
KMTV – a feature in their evening news show on the day of the run. You can view it here (If the link doesn’t work then it is possible that KMTV has now archived the story)
ITV Meridian had secured an interview with Luke at the run but was unable to on the day.