An inspirational children’s environmental book with a powerful message, perfect for Plastic Free July.
Created by Claire Vowell, illustrated by Jo Joof and starring Nurdle. Published by Peahen Publishing.
Nurdle is a lentil sized microplastic.
He really wants to be useful, but he is not being cared for properly and this is making him really sad. He is getting in all the wrong places, causing BIG problems in the environment.
Nurdle is a really engaging character and children quickly identify with his problems. He describes, in a gentle rhyming text, his journey from factory to the ocean and shares some of the things that have happened to him and his friends.
This book helps children to understand the problem of micro-plastics and the devastating effect they can have in the sea. It explains what they are, how they get into the sea and how small acts can make a big difference.
What is a Nurdle?
Nurdles are tiny pre-production micro-plastics that are used to make everything plastic that we use. They are easy to melt and shape for moulds, so are produced in staggering numbers, but problems with transport and distribution mean they are escaping in large numbers and ending up in our rivers, seas and oceans around the world. From there, they enter the food chain, mistaken for food by many different sea creatures and causing death and suffering.
The content of the book has been approved by Fidra, an environmental charity working tirelessly to track nurdle spills around the world. https://www.nurdlehunt.org.uk/
As nurdles are pre-production plastics, the more plastic we use, especially single-use plastics, the more nurdles are made and escape into the ocean.
Make a difference
5% percent of the profits will go to the Marine Conservation Society, the UK charity working for seas full of life. Registered charity 1004005. www.mcsuk.org
Another 5 % percent of the profits from sales of this book will go to Surfers against Sewage. www.sas.org.uk/plastic-free-communities/
Both charities are working to reduce the plastic tide in our oceans.
The artwork in the book celebrates the difference between the natural and the unnatural in the oceans. Anything natural is painted in beautiful water-colours by Frome artist and illustrator Jo Joof.
The plastic and Nurdles are photographs of genuine beach plastics and micro-plastics collected by myself and my family, cleaning beaches across England and Wales. I have transformed some of the ocean plastic into the artwork you see in the book alongside Jo’s wonderful illustrations.
Every Nurdle character in the book is a photo of a real nurdle, photographed from a UK beach.
What inspired the book?
Inspiration for the book came when I helped with a 'Surfers Against Sewage' beach clean, and found the beach was inches deep in nurdles and plastic pollution as far as the eye could see. Kneeling in the nurdles left a lasting impact and gave me a determination to make a difference.
Sharing the resulting photos and explaining what nurdles are, how they get on a beach and how they can be removed, with my year 3 class and children in other schools, led to the birth of Nurdle, first as a stuffed toy and then a book character!
The nurdles cannot be recycled as they are mixed plastic, so even once collected from beaches they end up in landfill. I started to make jewellery and artwork to permanently remove the nurdles from the cycle of pollution.
The “talk about me turtle” nurdle necklaces were the inspiration of my daughter and symbolise the turtles and sea creatures that are dying ingesting plastics. Each turtle is filled with clear nurdles, collected from the coast on the South of England during Surfers Against Sewage beach cleans.
We ask people to:
“Wear them, share them and talk about them”.
Anyone who loves the ocean!
Children are very aware of plastic pollution, such as bags, bottles and straws, and know that many of these break down into smaller pieces in the ocean, but many of them have never heard of nurdles and primary microplastics.
The book celebrates the effort made by everyone, whether tiny or tall, and 'Super Nurdle' asks all children to make a difference by reducing, reusing and recycling and making sensible choices about what they buy.
The aim is to use Nurdle and 20 years teaching experience to bring the problem of ocean microplastics into as many Primary schools as possible, with accompanying resources and activities.
Who are we?
I have been a Primary school teacher for 20 years. I grew up by the sea in Pembrokeshire, and I spend every spare moment by, or in the sea, no matter what the weather. I have spent many years with my family beach-combing and litter picking, but our finds are increasingly becoming plastic related. I believe passionately that we can make a HUGE difference to our environment if children are taught to love, respect and understand their world and the importance of the choices they make, no matter how small.
We borrow the world from our children and it is our duty to preserve it for them.
I am a self taught designer and illustrator and have many years of design experience in children's book publishing.
I use a broad variety of mediums from traditional pencil drawings, water-colour and acrylics to computer generated illustration.
Having skills in both design and illustration gives me the advantage of being able to create an entire project from concept to print.
Risks and challenges.
The book is printed in the UK to reduce the carbon footprint and is produced on FSC paper by small independent printing and publishing companies.
The money raised from this crowd funding will enable me to get copies of Nurdle printed, in as sustainable a way as possible, to sell in small independent shops and environmental organisations, to help spread awareness of this hidden menace. It will also enable me to provide sustainable packaging for postage.
I would also like to visit schools to help share activities and art projects inspired by Nurdle with the children.
A HUGE thank you to:
- Surfers Again Sewage South East rep: Katrina Ayling for introducing me to nurdles.
- Amazing poet Annie Fisher for tightening up my rhymes.
- Jo Joof for making my illustration dreams come to life.
- Michelle Costello aka @smartielidsonthebeach for encouraging me to use plastic in the artwork.
- Madeleine Berg from Fidra for checking that Nurdle was factually accurate.
- Carly and Nic from Peahen Publishing.
- My fabulous beach cleaning family!
Thank you for your time reading my Crowdfunder bid. I really believe that together, we can make a huge difference to our World!