Gorleston: The beach cleaner turning plastic rubbish into art

Published
Image source, Norfolk Beach Cleans
Image caption,
Emma Sturman creates art from the colourful plastic she finds during beach cleans

Plastic and litter collected by a band of beach cleaning volunteers is being turned into saleable art.

The materials are gathered by Norfolk Beach Cleans, a charity formed during lockdown to keep the county's beaches free of rubbish.

Founder Emma Sturman said the group can collect as much as three quarters of a tonne of litter every time they go out.

"The profits will go towards more beach cleaning equipment, so it all comes full circle," she said.

Image source, Norfolk Beach Cleans
Image caption,
Emma Sturman organises beach cleans around Norfolk several times a month

Mrs Sturman, 33, from Caister, founded the group in January 2021 and registered Norfolk Beach Cleans as a community interest company (CIC) in September - after appeals for help in clearing the coastline of rubbish grew in popularity.

Teams of 20 or more volunteers now help gather litter from Gorleston, North Denes, Old Hunstanton and Sheringham beaches, three or four times a month, weather permitting.

Image source, Norfolk Beach Cleans
Image caption,
The artworks are created using coloured plastics found during the beach cleans
Image source, Norfolk Beach Cleans
Image caption,
Mrs Sturman says money generated from the art will go back into the beach clean project

"I absolutely love the sea and I Scuba dive when I get the chance," she said. "But it's hard to see our local marine life struggling, like seals getting entangled in nets or toy frisbees caught around their necks.

"I ended up with loads of bits of plastic in my garage - so I'm putting it to good use."

Image source, Norfolk Beach Cleans
Image caption,
Mrs Sturman admits she's not an artist but is "putting the litter to good use"
Image source, Norfolk Beach Cleans
Image caption,
The group can collect as much as three quarters of a tonne of litter in every beach clean event

Mrs Sturman, an electrical engineer with Pharos Marine Automatic Power in Gorleston, has created pieces of art using hard, coloured plastics, metal lids and bits of netting and rope she finds on the coastline.

To date 11 pieces have been sold fetching between £7.50 and £40, depending on size.

"If I can reuse it, it doesn't go in landfill," she said.

"I'm not really an artist but people have been surprised with the results. All I can do is change people's minds and spread awareness."

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