Pens of the Earth: A Three Week Season of Stories, Poetry and Articles

Inspired by the many fabulous environmental initiatives taking place in Portsmouth, Pens of the Earth was set up to encourage writers to celebrate existing projects, and to imagine what might be.

It was launched on 25th July 2019, with talks from environmental experts, discussion groups and subsequent workshops. Local writers were invited to submit stories and poetry inspired by the talk themes. For the next three weeks, Star & Crescent will be featuring the information from these talks alongside the stories and poems inspired by them.

This week, Alison Habens reports on: Plastic Free Portsmouth.

A group of local writers linked up with environmentalist Clare Seek, who leads the Plastic Free Portsmouth campaign, to share our ideas for short stories on the theme and gain deeper insight into the issues. Some workshop writing prompts allowed participants to start sowing seeds of ideas for creative engagement following the inspiring talk Clare gave during the Pens of the Earth launch.

As experienced authors, the Hub members were able to come up with interesting starting points for imaginative responses to the things we’d heard about packaging, single-use plastic, recycling and a range of amazing initiatives from around the world from Pompey’s lovely ‘Plastic Lady’.

She listened enthusiastically as we shared characters and plot-lines based on the activities she’d discussed, and then gave more detail about bodies such as Surfers Against Sewage, a Pack Share app, the recycling efforts of Walkers, a project to pay bus fares in recycled plastic and some of the new scientific discoveries that may help avert the environmental crisis, such as cactus plastic.

During this exciting talk, the writers gleaned more information on the background material which would help make our stories believable and enhance their potentially positive impact. I raised the idea of an ‘immersive / interactive’ event, based on a beach clean/litter pick, and which could possibly publicise such activities, by hiding a trail of stories in the (carefully recycled) packaging pathways. It’s something to explore further, perhaps, as part of a funding bid; ideally in close collaboration with one of the local campaign groups who could benefit from such a project.


Further information:

Southsea Beach Clean ‘aims to help keep the Beaches of Southsea clean […] raising awareness and taking action’.

Zero Waste Portsmouth. Working to make Portsmouth a zero waste city.

Package Free Larder. Portsmouth’s first plastic free supermarket, successfully crowdfunded on 13th August and now looking for premises.

Wild Thyme. Sells some package free whole foods (usually organic) and some package free cleaning liquids, both available in ‘refill areas’.


Pens of the Earth is about environmental tales from a positive Portsmouth – encouraging writers to celebrate existing environmental initiatives, and to imagine what might be.

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Star & Crescent are proud to support Pens of the Earth as a media partner. Stay up to date with all the Pens of the Earth stories as they’re published here