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Somebody Should Do Something!

Recycling and the environment

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To consider that we each have a duty of care to the environment.

Preparation and materials


  1. Point out that as the nights get darker and the weather gets colder, it is good to remember the summer holidays. Perhaps we can cast our minds back to some lovely, warm days spent on the beach or in the sea.

  2. Ask the students whether they have ever visited Cornwall.

    Explain that Cornwall is the most westerly county in England. It is a mostly flat landscape, but it has beautiful beaches, coves and villages, making it a popular tourist destination.

  3. Show Slides 1-3.

    Express how lovely it would be if it was a warm, sunny, summer day today and school was going to be held on one of these Cornish beaches!

  4. Show Slide 4.

    Explain that the woman in the picture is Pat Smith, who lives in Cornwall. She loves walking along its many beaches and fully appreciates how fortunate she is to live in such a beautiful area.

  5. One evening in 2017, Pam went to the cinema to see a documentary called A Plastic Ocean. It really upset her: she hadn’t realized how big a problem plastic was in the ocean. She learned that, not only does plastic litter spoil beaches when it gets washed up, but plastic also greatly affects marine life.

  6. Many of us have heard about the problem of plastic in our oceans. Over recent years, there has been increasing concern about this issue.

    Show Slides 5-10.

  7. Pat faced a dilemma: what could she do about the problem of plastic in our oceans? She found that it played on her mind; it seemed to be all she could think about and talk about, and it gave her many sleepless nights.

    After doing some research, Pat came up with an idea. It wasn’t likely that she could ever solve the problem of the oceans, but she could at least do something in the seas around her native Cornwall. There were about a million people living in Cornwall, so it might be an achievable target area. She decided to tackle the use of plastic straws first.

  8. Pat set about convincing 600 businesses - such as cafes, restaurants and cinemas - to give up using plastic straws. She came up with a really catchy name for her campaign: Final Straw Cornwall. She felt that our casual consumption of plastic - especially single-use plastic straws, which are used for about 20 minutes on average before being discarded - really were ‘the final straw’ when it came to our treatment of the environment.

  9. First, Pat and a group of volunteers worked hard to get rid of plastic straws in Cornish businesses. Later, they expanded their campaigning work to focus on getting rid of single-use coffee cups and plastic water bottles, too.

    Many people joined Pat because they wanted to do something, too. Pat described her idea as ‘just a little thing really, a tiny fraction of the plastic problem, but it was enough to get people thinking about the bigger problem’.

  10. Last year, she decided that her next target would be to clean a beach in her area every week. She never goes out without a pair of rubber gloves and a small bag . . . not a plastic one, though!

Time for reflection

Show Slide 11.

Read out the words on the slide: I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that! Then I realized I am somebody.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Pat realized that if there was a job to do, it was no use waiting for someone else to do it. She was the somebody who needed to do something!

Ask the students to consider whether they have noticed anything that spoils the beauty of their environments. It might be litter in the playground, clutter around the school, untidy bedrooms (!) or even unkind words. (You may wish to focus here on specific areas of interest within the school or the local area.)

Pause to allow time for thought.

How might we become the somebody that does something?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Dear God,
Thank you for the beautiful world that you have created for us to enjoy.
We are sorry that it is being spoilt in so many ways.
Please help us to be the somebodies who do something.
Help us to start to do something now, no matter how small.


Some relaxing sounds of waves crashing on a beach. An example is available at: (over 1 hour long)

Publication date: December 2019   (Vol.21 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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