The Brighton beach posse on a mission... to bin the bad stuff
... and look what they did in a few hours
why do they still have them in the fruit and veg section?’ she asked. ‘The big challenge is to eradicate single-use plastic full stop.’
She says she has now become so worried about the quantities of plastic in the sea that she has virtually given up eating fish.
A few miles away, in the East Sussex county town of Lewes, I came across an equally impressive Great Plastic Pick Up in the woods between the local playing fields and the main route to the port of Newhaven. In a matter of minutes, organiser Steven Sparks had filled an entire bin liner with plastic bottles, a motorbike battery and a lot of beer cans.
‘I’ve been blown away by the amount of stuff we’ve found – especially the amount of McDonald’s packaging.’ The nearest McDonald’s, he explained, was almost ten miles away. ‘So I suppose it must take people around ten miles to eat a meal and then they chuck it out of the window here.’
His six-year-old son, Austin, was baffled by a strange plastic discovery in the undergrowth. We oldtimers had to explain that it was an ancient form of entertainment known as a cassette tape. There were many young children here, all of them with an impressive enthusiasm for the task in hand. Helen Parkyns had come with an added incentive – a freshly-baked lemon drizzle cake to be shared among all willing helpers afterwards.
Her husband, David, and his friend, Paul Dennis, had done some comparative studies on their findings. The ‘best before’ date on one crisp packet showed that it was at least 12 years old and yet it had hardly deteriorated. Next to it, they had discovered an old pair of shoes which had moulded away to virtually nothing.
A further 12 miles to the east, a similar exercise was under way on the beach at Cuckmere Haven as Angela Tucker and friends rounded up bags of plastic bottles, plastic ties, plastic straws, plastic nets and lines – plus two dog leads, one flip- flop and a lunchbox still packed with its owner’s lunch.
‘It was quite therapeutic and we managed to have a laugh,’ she said. ‘It’s a good feeling to know, at least for today, this beach is clean.’
THE sentiment was echoed nationwide. No one regarded this as a chore. Everyone seemed very pleased that the Mail had got people together in this way and they would gladly do it again.
This is a cause which unites people of all ages and outlooks wherever they are.
Take London caterer Hugh Walker who has taken extended leave from work to cycle around Britain’s entire coastline signing up cafes to a scheme to refill any water bottle for free (@hughsrefilltour). It is going to take him months. Having got as far as the south-west coast of Scotland this weekend, he couldn’t quite reach the nearest Great Plastic Pick Up in time – so he has now resolved to do one every day for the rest of his tour, starting this morning in Garlieston Bay.
Rich pickings: Robert Hardman joins the Brighton volunteers
Casually discarded: Volunteers with some of the 30 bags of rubbish they collected on Brighton Beach