Furloughed Londoner finds fortune in the Thames

[LONDON RESIDENT, FLORA BLATHWAYT] "Hi, I'm Flora, and I make cards with plastic that I find washed up on the River Thames."

When the UK entered lockdown in 2020, Flora Blathwayt was furloughed from her job and confined to London.

That’s when she founded a business based on litter she found – making greeting cards.

"I had read about plastic pollution, but I guess when I first started beach cleaning and seeing it for myself, it hits home more and I think you see the scale of it. You root through loads of seaweed or through the sand and you're just like 'there's so much here.'

Flora now makes the cards alongside a part-time job for a company selling packaging made from seaweed.

She produces hundreds of ‘washed up cards’ a week, although last month she made several thousand cards to meet a surge in orders after her story appeared in British media.

"I want the whole process to be as sustainable as possible. See, the purpose and the plastic is the message that I want to get out there. That's like the number one thing, but the card I use is recycled card - the company, the supplier I use; all my packaging is upcycled."

"... when I go down to the beach, I never know what I'm going to find. My eyes begin to get tuned in - it's quite meditative - to like finding those little gems, those treasures; something colourful, a sequin, like something gold or sparkly. You'd be surprised to see how many little treasures you find."

"This is some sort of red casing, like from a bottle cap, but I love the colour and it's a good, sturdy plastic, which I'll either use, maybe a some big wheel, a big tractor's wheel, or chop it up into bits on the cards. But yeah, definitely find of the day."

A geography graduate, Flora had no formal art training -

but sees her success as part of a wider movement.

"I think that's the main thing, sort of the takeaway, is you often think it's going to be big bits of plastic, but down here it's like the micro-plastic, the smaller bits, which are obviously really bad for wildlife and fish can think they are food, and birds, and stuff like that. So, I mean, I'm hardly making a difference, but it's something."

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