Relentless environmentalism are the first words that come to mind when thinking about WarmNorm, who has been removing plastics and litter picking other nasty waste from places it doesn't belong since his early teenage years. He is also the legend behind BHASSEXPLORE (Beachy Head and Seven Sisters Extreme Plastic Objects Removal). This ecological movement that was brought to life over the lockdown period of 2020, after WarmNorm had recently moved to the Eastbourne area, and began to clean the grass verges, coastal paths and the beaches on his daily strolls.
The tale is actually quite a humorous one, check out the BHASSEXPLORE origins, it involves a big pile of plastic and other marine waste that looked to have been collected by someone over a lengthy period of time, just out of reach from the seas high-tide grasp, and a naked sun lover who WarmNorm was intent on tracking down!
I don't know the exact reasoning why Norm is known as WarmNorm, but I can have a good guess why... "WarmNorm continued, day upon day turned into week one and week two, mysterious sightings and reports surfaced of a bearded person seen transporting rubbish across the downs from the coast...a sweaty and dishevelled character who was combobulatingly friendly to any one or any creature that crossed his path as he toiled with ungainly loads of plastic crap about his body." I, Adam the Greensocker, can indeed confirm the warmth.
12th & 13th March 2023 - Extreme Roadside Clearance at Friston Forest
My first time meeting with the WarmNorm and the Greensockers, after following the BHASSEXPLORE Instagram account closely for a couple of months prior.
Never having used Instagram before the arrival of Rat Assed, it came as a shock to me, that there existed profiles as wholesome as BHASSEXPLORE, where environmentally dedicated groups and individuals are consistently spreading awareness around single use pollution. In my social media virgin mind I had always imagined nothing but selfies, pets and beautiful landscapes that would have me wishing I was somewhere else.
Pulling into the large muddy layby, I could see in front of me the famed BHASSEXPLORE flag, pitched and ready to be immersed in pieces of plastic and other roadside waste. I could also see a land pirate, hi-vis on and already hard at work, it was of course WarmNorm, the man I had been waiting to meet. I was greeted with a warm smile, a firm handshake and the mention that he likes when a man keeps to their word, maybe insinuating it isn't uncommon for volunteers to drop out last minute. I was given a brief rundown of what we were going to set out to achieve that day, then got straight to work, no dilly dally.
The work was tough, which makes it all the more rewarding, constantly jumping up and down off the embankments dodging speeding cars, who would occasionally let off a toot of appreciation (at least I think so) along with a wave. The amount of litter along the main road running adjacent to Friston Forest was immense, bags were being filled up quickly, ran down back to camp at the layby, emptied, then filled again. Pick, fill, repeat. This really is extreme litter picking, I had fallen in love.
After many hours of this process, breaking a sweat, socialising with likeminded volunteers, filling dozens of bags full of rubbish of all varieties, with at least one find being over a century old, we were done, everyone humming with the hazy satisfaction that this all round, beneficial activity called litter picking, brings us.
The day finished finished in the best way possible, with a beer, sharing stories in the back of Gerda & Tiago's beautiful van home. Gerda & Tiago were kind enough to take me on a night out in Eastbourne, where I met even more friendly sea-side folk, ending up with 4 hours of sleep in my van, which is more akin to a coffin, before the second days extreme litter pick. I was late, but still turned up and we did it all again. It was brilliant.
15th May 2023 - All Day Beach Clean at the Seven Sisters Estuary & Cuckmere Haven
On this occasion, it was an all-day beach at The Seven Sisters Estuary, then another clean for a few hours at Cuckmere Haven. By the time we started cleaning Cuckmere Haven, I can't deny, I was absolutely shagged.
The Seven Sisters Estuary is quite the sight, boasting tons of wildlife, towering chalk cliffs and a stunning panoramic view of the ocean. Camp this time was setup next to the mouth of the Estuary, a short walk from the pebbly, shingly beach. The highlight of this clean for me was dragging tens of meters of copper wiring about half a mile across the beach, and feeling like an absolute champ when me and Brigitta finally arrived back at the temporary BHASSEXPLORE camp with it. WarmNorm showed me the havoc plastic was wreaking on the wildlife, pointing out small pieces of plastic in bird poop. I also read a statistic the other day, claiming 90% of all sea birds now have plastic in their internals. The below picture is the haul from the Seven Sisters Estuary & beach.
The remainder of the day was spent at Cuckmere Haven, where I began to regret dressing like a sunflower, being under constant bombardment from thunder bugs. Another good sized haul was collected here, many passers by would stop and talk to WarmNorm and the gang, intrigued and possibly confused by what was going on. Awareness is a powerful key player in the fight against plastic and litter.
Unfortunately there were no van beers this time as I had to make my way back inland.
Again, I find myself in total awe of these guys, cleaning up beaches, beauty spots, dangerous roadsides, all year round, almost every single weekend. The efforts and selflessness are absolutely magnificent.
21/01/24 - "Operation Uplift!" at Cow Gap
This time for “operation uplift”, I had the pleasure of helping to shift all the plastic marine waste collected over the past 3-4 months by BHASSEXPLORE and the dedicated Greensock volunteers, from point “A” across a shingle and rock strewn beach named Cow Gap (weird name for a beach innit) for 200m, to point “B” which was up a precarious metal stairway which I’m sure will be closed off by the council soon, unless erosion beats them to it. From the top of the stairs we went along a sloppy muddy incline to point “C”, and from there a steeper, shorter incline to point “D”, where the waste is ready to be removed by a tractor, otherwise known as a tratter where I'm from.
Many hands make light work I remember WarmNorm saying as we worked in unison, moving all the waste like Chinese whispers up the stairs, and he wasn’t wrong. With a turnout of 12 volunteers, all of us included, we were able to shift all the plastic 50m above sea level in just a couple of hours. It’s Afockingmazing what can be achieved when people come together.
Plastic in our oceans and environment is an enemy to us all, the more often we can come together, work hard, smile and laugh for a greater good the better. Awareness and getting people talking is just as powerful as the act itself.
It was an absolute pleasure getting to spend time with these guys again, they warmly welcome anyone who cares to get involved, if you’re interested and in the Brighton/Eastbourne area please check out www.bhassexplore.com or reach out to Norm WarmNorm or BHASSEXPLORE on Instagram. I can’t wait for the next time.
I will never shut up about the benefits of litter picking, not only for earths biodiversity, but for our own mental wellbeing. It’s the perfect mix of walking, hard work, nature, meeting wonderfully likeminded people and having a positive impact, all well known for their mental health benefits.
We, all of us creatures who share this wonderful earth, must thank WarmNorm, Hebridean Pam, Csaba and Brigitta as well as all the #Greensockmovement volunteers for removing over a staggering 60 tonnes of marine plastics and debris since that first lockdown of 2020! Astounding.
WarmNorm - "I thoroughly endorse your brand (Rat Assed) and ethics! Everyone should get Rat Assed apparel!"
If you'd like to know more about why you should consider supporting a rebellious fashion brand like Rat Assed, check out the blog on why fast fashion is dead!
Cheers! Love you guys. Until the next time. *Bicep flex emoji*