Two polar bears – and their marathon run for the environment
I spoke to two amazing fundraisers to find out more about what inspired them, why they raised money for us and their tips for others wanting to get involved.
Whenever I think of running a marathon, what immediately comes to mind is months of relentless training, collapsing in a heap at the finish line and shiny medals!
What I don’t think of is running as a polar bear duo in an outfit made of used face masks!
But this was what Ruth and Ella did when they took on the gruelling 26.2 mile Brighton Marathon in April, while dressed as polar bears and melting ice caps made from over 150 face masks.
Their costume also called out the names of big oil and gas companies alongside some of the biggest plastic polluters including Shell, BP and INEOS. Ruth and Ella not only made waves at Brighton Marathon with their terrific outfit, they also raised an amazing £1,045 for Friends of the Earth Scotland!
What was the motivation behind your amazing costume?
Ella: I work as a physiotherapist in the NHS and when Covid-19 hit it was a bit of a blow to see the already established wasteful practices intensify as personal protection equipment regulations became stricter. The route that I cycled out of the hospital where I was working in at the time became strewn with face masks. On one occasion I picked up 44 masks!
We were also both sick of seeing masks everywhere else, littering streets, parks, rivers and hedges. Being forced into wasteful practices felt uncomfortable for me and I didn’t know what to do to help balance out my impact. I started to save my masks in the hope that a recycling scheme would become available. Then when Ruth and I decided on our joint costume marathon idea, I thought that the masks would be good to use as it would give them a second life.
We wanted to have a costume that could be linked to climate change issues so this became the heart of our message and fundraising. Plastic pollution in oceans and rivers is already a huge issue and face mask waste from the pandemic has only added to this.
We also wanted to support the efforts of Friends of the Earth Scotland and others in the Stop Cambo campaign in their fight towards stopping the Cambo oil field off the Shetland Islands. Our final costume represents two polars bears stranded by melting ice-caps, littered with plastic pollution. If you got close enough to the costume you could see logos belonging to some of the biggest polluting companies in the world.
What made you choose FoES?
Ella: I first heard about Friends of the Earth Scotland through a friend of mine who runs her own small business selling plastic free items. It’s called Anything But Plastic and it deserves a shout out for the great things it’s doing to eliminate plastic waste! My friend is well read on climate change issues and I trusted her complimentary opinion of FoES.
Both Ruth and I live in Scotland, so it felt right to focus our efforts on climate justice actions specific to Scotland and we both wanted to support a smaller and more local charity. We knew we wanted to support a charity that supports work towards a greener and fairer society, Friends of the Earth Scotland ticked all of our boxes!
What would you recommend to anyone thinking of starting up their own fundraiser?
Ella: Pick an issue or topic that means a lot to you and that you are passionate about, this will keep your motivation levels high and drive you to achieve your goals.
Be sensible about what your challenge is going to be but also don’t shy away from picking something that’s ambitious or too challenging.
Don’t be afraid of failing your challenge and even if you do it doesn’t matter, it’s about raising awareness and starting conversations on a topic that is important to you.
Would you do something like this again/fundraise?
Ella: Yes definitely. But I won’t be rushing to run a marathon again in a 2-person costume.
Ruth: Yes! I feel folk generally are very willing to donate money to charities but need some encouragement to do so. The marathon was hard but this costume fundraising project made it slightly easier somehow because we were receiving so much encouragement before and during the event.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Ella: Please check out StopCambo.org.uk to sign petitions and hear about the latest actions. And follow what Friends of the Earth Scotland is up to. Get involved!
Thank you so much for raising awareness for excessive waste, Stop Cambo and Friends of the Earth Scotland all whilst running an entire marathon! Well done folks.
If you’re interested in fundraising for us, why not check out our fundraising page for ideas to get you started on your own fundraising adventure. Are you up for a challenge or simply want to fundraise for your birthday? Anything is possible.
If you have any questions or would like advice on your fundraising idea, get in touch with our friendly fundraising team or call our office on 0131 243 2700.
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