Our latest collaboration empowers island communities around the UK to take action against plastic pollution

Loch Coruisk, a hidden sea Loch on the Isle of Skye. Photo by Keith Bremner.

Loch Coruisk, a hidden sea Loch on the Isle of Skye. Photo by Keith Bremner.


Parley and Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) have unveiled the list of island communities around the UK that will lead our joint Cold Water Islands Project. They range from rocky Orkney Island off the north coast of Scotland to small, subtropical islands in the English Channel, and from busier places like the Hayling Islands in England (population 18,000) to outposts like Ynys Enlli in Wales, home to just 15 people.

Marine plastic pollution can have a big impact on these communities and ecosystems. Islands bear the brunt of our global plastic crisis, accumulating drifting debris on their beaches and coastlines, which can be harder to handle given their small size and separation from mainland facilities. With smaller communities, though, comes more power to innovate, experiment and create solutions. Parley believes islands around the world can be catalysts for change, creating blueprints for new ways of living without plastic and other harmful materials.

Above and header: Mealt Falls, Isle of Skye. Right: An SAS volunteer.

Above and header: Mealt Falls, Isle of Skye. Right: An SAS volunteer.


“Our island communities are on the front line battling the scourge of plastic pollution. We want to support the groups and individuals working tirelessly to tackle avoidable single-use plastic.”

– Ben Hewitt, Director of Campaigns and Projects, Surfers Against Sewage


"Islanders know that plastic has to go. It doesn’t belong on beaches and it has no place in a circular economy. Together with SAS, we’ll continue to grow our Parley AIR Strategy and SAS's Plastic Free Communities to these new islands by empowering and connecting communities and their leaders, whose local actions can shape both a nationwide and global model for change."

– Cyrill Gutsch, Founder of Parley for the Oceans

Dingieshowe Beach on Orkney Island © VisitScotland / Kenny Lam.

Dingieshowe Beach on Orkney Island © VisitScotland / Kenny Lam.


The collaborative project will be led by SAS, who have been at the forefront of marine protection since their founding by surfers in Cornwall back in 1990. By targeting small cold water islands around the UK, we’ll jointly explore plastic pollution pathways and promote community-based solutions to demonstrate how these microcosms can implement the Parley AIR strategy and provide a template for action.

The selection was based on detailed applications by prospective island community leaders – individuals who are instigators of change and ocean activists; passionate individuals who can stimulate positive change and grow a movement within their community. Based on learnings from both SAS’s community initiatives and the Parley AIR strategy, the project aims to empower and mobilize community action against plastic. Each community leader will be equipped with a specially-developed Parley X SAS Cold Water Islands toolkit with resources to guide the island’s strategy, and tactics to create change. Each island will also receive a beach clean box featuring physical tools and gear needed to operate safely on remote island coastlines.


OUR Parley x sas cold water island LEADERS


Carol Campbell, Orkney, Northern Isles

Carolyn Cluness, Harris, Outer Hebrides

Gill Houlsby, Skye, Inner Hebrides

Catriona Spink, Tiree, Inner Hebrides

Northern Ireland

Michael Cecil, Rathlin Island


Sophie Scharer, Ynys Enlli (also called Bardsey Island)


Lara Hayward, Hayling Islands

Channel Islands

Claire Thorpe, Alderney

Nic Nolan, Herm

Left: Stromness town on Orkney Island © VisitScotland / Kenny Lam. Right: Gill Houlsby, Skye Community Leader.

Left: Stromness town on Orkney Island © VisitScotland / Kenny Lam. Right: Gill Houlsby, Skye Community Leader.


Voices from the islands

“When I first came to Tiree thirty five years ago there was no plastic,” explains community leader Catriona Spink. “This plastic tide is a blight to such a beautiful wild rural environment and needs to be urgently addressed, which is why I’ve taken on this project with my community.”

“Rathlin islanders are very proud of our island home and proud to be its front-line guardians,” says community leader Michael Cecil. “This is a great opportunity to strengthen our resolve to work for cleaner, plastic-free shorelines and oceans. If a small island can achieve a positive impact, with limited resources, then anyone can do it.”

“Alderney is a beautiful island but we could and should be doing so much more to end our part in plastic pollution,” says community leader Claire Thorpe. “Alderney is home to many seabirds, including the Gannets — 100% of which have nests comprised of plastic lines and net. The Redesign stage of Parley's AIR system is greatly needed here.”

"Orkney is an inspiring collection of islands, providing clean air and diverse natural habitats,” according to community leader Carol Campbell. “The islands are home to 15% of the world's seal population and provide important breeding grounds for several animals. For the protection of all Orkney's species, it is vitally important we remove pollutants to ensure a safe and sustainable home."





The Island achieves Plastic Free Community Status, including the formation of a community steering group and engaged grassroots network for change to manage actions against plastic, engaging the local authority/council, and schools.


Coordination of regular beach clean community events and collection of data regarding the type and source of the plastic pollution on their island.


Reduce the island’s single-use plastic footprint by engaging and collaborating with local business and inspiring and educating individual actions and promoting Parley’s AIR strategy.