Help is needed to clean up our dirty beaches
AS the summer moves on, and each night the bathers and sandcastlebuilders vanish from our beaches, two constants remain – litter and wildlife, never a good combination.
From gulls with their bills stuck in drinks cans and otters entwined in plastic rings, our casual dumping of everyday waste on Britain’s beaches continues to cause great concern among the conservationists.
The Marine Conservation Society claims that our seasides were litter-free just a few generations ago, whereas on some beaches these days, family picnics and beach-games take place among all manner of detritus, including crisp packets, plastic bottles, cigarette stubs, fishing line, cotton bud sticks, condoms, nappies and tonnes of plastic and polystyrene.
Most of the rubbish is recyclable and, in an attempt to highlight the issue and do something about the problem, the MCS is looking for volunteers for The Great British Beach Clean from September 19 to 22.
In a similar clean-up campaign last year, an average of 2,309 pieces of litter were picked per kilometre cleaned.
MCS Beachwatch officer Lauren Eyles said: “We are hoping for 10,000 volunteers to visit their local beach, to give it a good clean and help break the record for the greatest number of beaches cleaned in one event.
“We aim to litter-pick at least 400 beaches in four days and to carry out a litter survey which will give us valuable data to help reduce litter in the future.” The MSC believes that, by asking volunteers to record the names of any branded items which continually appear in the collections, they will be able to approach individual manufacturers to discuss ways to reduce the amount of rubbish ending up on our shores and beaches.
During several beach cleans along the north Kent coast, a large number of plastic syringes were found. Once the make of syringe was identified, so was the company in London which was being paid to incinerate them. It been dumping the syringes in the Thames.
Much of the litter found on our beaches is carelessly dropped, but with wind and tides it can soon be carried out to sea, where inevitably it will meet rubbish coming ashore from elsewhere. Marine litter affects more than 260 of our marine species — either because they accidentally eat floating rubbish, or they get trapped and injured by it.
A a sperm whale was recently found with more than 200kg of litter in its stomach, including fishing nets, plastic bags and even a plastic comb.
To become a Beachwatch volunteer or for more information, visit firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01989 566017
For readers with a real interest in the marine environment, the MCS Sea Champions is a national volunteer programme offering environmental volunteer opportunities in the UK.
Launched in 2012 and funded by Marks & Spencer, the programme offers volunteers the chance to take part in marine animal surveys, beach cleans and litter surveys and various campaigns to help save our seas, shores and wildlife. Sea champions get support from a volunteer coordinator and access to resources and training.
If anyone gets involved, whether as sea champion or a beach-cleaner, let us know how you got on.
●● Litter pickers helping out the Marine Conservation Society
The Laughing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Padfield, Glossop