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Plastic pollution in the sights of Maidstone litter picker as she joins EXXpedition Round The World

A keen litter picker is swapping Maidstone's streets for the garbage patches of the ocean.

Former finance worker Bonita Baker-Robins is one of just 300 women around the world to be chosen for a global expedition to crack down on plastic pollution.

Bonita Baker-Robins, of Maidstone, who has been selected to join an international expedition to ocean garbage patches around the world. Picture: Matthew Walker
Bonita Baker-Robins, of Maidstone, who has been selected to join an international expedition to ocean garbage patches around the world. Picture: Matthew Walker

Paramedic Mrs Baker-Robins hopes her skill set will come in handy as she prepares to set sail for the South Pacific.

Those skills include the time she spends cleaning the streets of north Loose and the waterways in Chatham.

The 56-year-old said: "We use plastic bottles for 10 minutes, if you don't dispose of them properly they end up in the ocean.

"They start to break down into micro-plastics which release toxins into the water.

"As a paramedic I've seen cancer in young mums, these toxins are being linked to cancer and we need to understand the effect they're having.

"As women we can pass these toxins on to our children through childbirth and breastfeeding, so it's a very real concern for future generations."

"As a paramedic I've seen cancer in young mums, these toxins are being linked to cancer and we need to understand the effect they're having..." - Bonita Baker-Robins

The keen sailor is one of 300 women chosen to take part in EXXpedition Round The World.

The XX in eXXpedition reflects the XX chromosome and has stayed since being chosen as the name for the first all-women voyage in 2014.

The two-year initiative set sail in October and will travel across the ocean, giving participants the chance to see and research the effect of plastics in our ocean, which will then be fed back to experts.

Mrs Baker-Robins said: "It's very easy to sit in Kent and not see the bigger picture, this is a chance to understand what is happening.

"Hopefully when I come back I can go to schools and other places to talk about what I've seen.

"I'm no spring chicken, but I want this to prove to people that you can do anything and we can all make a difference."

The scuba diver needs to raise £10,000 before she climbs aboard for 24 days in March.

Friends and family have leant a helping hand, while there's also been support from The Cock Inn in Boughton Monchelsea, YMCA Maidstone, Purdy and Power Cranbrook, and David Catt and Sons in Maidstone.

With five months to go, the Pheasant Lane, Maidstone paramedic said: "I'm still a mixture of nervousness and excitement.

"I feel like this is a real privilege to be one of 300 women chosen, now I just need to focus on getting the money."

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