Baby Boomer Woman: Goffinet McLaren

by Anne Holmes on October 26, 2012

With a deep bow of pure, unpolluted respect, we are delighted to introduce one of our newest NABBW members, Goffinet McLaren, an anti-plastic activist, ocean conservationist, animal advocate and author who recently published her first book, “Sullie Saves the Seas,” featuring  the environmental spokesbird, Sullie Seagull.

Sullie’s tale is a serious one, told as a children’s story, and featuring a foreword written by Captain Charles Moore, the sea captain who accidentally discovered what is now known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, in 1997.

McLaren and Moore are on a mission to alert the world to just how serious a peril our oceanic trash problem has become. But this time they’ve chosen to craft their story into an entertaining children’s tale.

And why not? Remember, parables have long been selected by the world’s greatest teachers as a way to teach children – and adults  — about grave problems.

When she’s not writing books, Goffinet spends her days working on the beaches of the world, writing, advocating and heading up the Chirping Bird Society, which is dedicated to “raising awareness of the dangers of the Plastic Age to our health and our oceans.”

Saving our oceans is an effort Goffinet recognizes as one of the biggest issues facing our planet. As she told me recently, “I am always looking for ways to hook up with people who are interested in our planet and preserving what we have been ‘loaned’ here on Earth.

Recently Goffinet took a bit of time away from her environmental causes to answer our “Voices” questions, and share a bit about her mission. Here’s what she told us:

Using one paragraph tell us a bit about yourself:

I was born and grew up in the historic town of Carrickfergus, just 10 miles north of Belfast in N. Ireland.

In 1967, I moved to Dublin to join Aer Lingus International Airways as air crew, a position which I enjoyed for approximately 15 years.

After meeting my husband 30,000 feet above sea level, en route from Shannon to Boston, I moved to Boston where I thought that I had found heaven!

We later moved to Greenville, South Carolina where our son, Moutray, was born.  And finally, we moved back to the ocean at Pawleys Island, for what became a short-lived retirement.

Tell us about your family

I am married to my soul mate and greatest supporter.  Ian and I have one son, Moutray, who is presently studying at the Charleston School of Law.

What is your favorite childhood memory that is reminiscent of growing up in the 50s?

The memory that is most persistent about my childhood and teenage years was the freedom we all enjoyed to simply come and go  with  friends outside the home minus today’s  concern for danger.

What qualities do you have that speak of our generation of women?

I think that any qualities that I might have would have been the same, regardless of which generation I lived in.

What inspires you?

To hear others honestly speak their mind and stand up for the courage of their convictions.

What brings you the most pleasure in mid life? 

Ha! I cannot think of anything more pleasurable than having my head stuck down a turtle nest counting eggs on the beach or hearing my husband laugh at one of my quirky jokes!

Do you have any interesting hobbies?

Sea Turtle conservation, walking on the beach on a windy, wet day and writing about environmental concerns.

Do you have a favorite book or movie?  And Why?

  • Book: “Cry the Beloved Country,” by Alan Patton. Patton explained that if one is aware of a wrong, it is inexcusable not to take action.
  • Movie:  “March of the Penguins,” as it had such a profound effect on my awareness of the depth of love and commitment by a non-human species to their off-spring.

Do you travel and if so, who are your favorite travel partners and where do you like to go?

Having traveled the world during my 15 years with Aer Lingus, I am now quite content to annually return to my native Ireland, where I enjoy my family and lifetime friends.

In Ireland, I also dearly love the pleasure of hiking the coastline with its never-ending contrasts of scenic beauty.

Do you practice preventive medicine? Please elaborate.

When I was 16, my father introduced me to a book “Eat to Live – Don’t Live to Eat.” Since then, I have always focused on a nutritional diet for myself and my family. Good food is medicine.

What do you stress about?

I constantly stress about the invasive impact of plastic products on our everyday lives, especially in the ocean where it has devastating effects on marine life.

Is it important for you to retain your youthful looks, and if so, to what degree are you willing to go?

It is more important to me to maintain my physical and mental fitness.

Have you reinvented yourself and if so how? 

I did not reinvent myself. Finding plastic on the beach reinvented me. My priorities in life changed some 6 years ago when I relocated to live by the ocean and I learned how the ocean and everything that lives in it, were being abused by selfish human activities.

Do you plan to retire? 

I supposedly retired 6 years ago!  But I find that I am busier than ever on with the environmental challenges.

Are You Doing anything to GO Green?  


  • We actively recycle.
  • We refuse to use disposal plastic, including all plastic shopping bags.
  • I launched a local program called Plastic Free Pawleys encouraging local stores to not provide plastic bags to their customers and to bring their own shopping bag instead.
  • We practice energy conservation in our home (even air-drying our  laundry outside), thus reducing our home energy consumption by over 30%.
  • I cycle or walk instead of driving, whenever feasible.

Can you pinpoint major turning points in your life that led to your life’s work/play at midlife?

Yes, finding plastic litter on the beach.

Do you still have unfilled dreams, and are you doing anything to accomplish them?

Having published,Sullie Saves the Seas, I am now focused on writing a book about my father’s escape from Occupied Belgium during WWII. I want to pay tribute to the families who risked their lives by assisting Allied evaders.

I especially want to honor a village priest, Father Georges Goffinet, who was instrumental in my father`s escape, and in whose memory I was named.

How do you make a difference in the lives of others, your community, your world

I try to be empathetic to the concerns of others.

Who had the biggest influence on your life and why?

When I was still searching for my role in life, a dear friend in Dublin, Ireland convinced me that I could be whatever I committed to be.

If you were to have a personal mission Statement, what would it be? Feel free to be as serious or fun as you choose.

I am currently working on the launch of “The Chirping Bird Society” to provide a platform that will encourage people around the world to speak up about major global issues, such as plastic pollution; climate change; animal abuse and economic inequality.

A chirping bird can be man, women or child.  After all, as Albert Einstein once said, “One voice will not change the world. But millions of voices can change all things.”

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