2019’s beach cleans – our efforts to help the Copeland coast

Volunteers and litter collected from Whitehaven North Shore

Throughout 2019 we have run beach cleans at Whitehaven and St Bees. With the help of nearly 400 volunteers, over 100 bags of litter have been removed from the Copeland coastline this year and we want to say a big thank you to all those people who have helped.

It’s great that so many people want to do something to tackle the marine litter crisis. There’s such an interest in the marine environment and coastal pollution that we have no shortage of volunteers whatever the weather.  We’ve had lots of interesting finds this year.  Plastic Smartie lids are a regular find and they often look like new, but in fact Smarties began to use cardboard caps in 2005 so when we find a plastic lid it illustrates how long plastic might be in the oceans for before it washes up and can be removed.

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Alongside the fun finds there are also some saddening finds too. Dead sea birds have been seen on some occasions.  None of them have been tangled in litter, so it’s more likely that have died in rough seas or bad weather.  In November there was also a sad sight when a harbour porpoise washed up St Bees beach.  However, it did give a rare opportunity to get close to one of the marine mammals we know are out there, using our coastline but normally only catch glimpses of.

Alongside the time that people give us by coming along to help out, our beach cleans wouldn’t be as successful without the help of Carvetii Coffee in Threlkeld who donate hessian coffee sacks so we have less plastic going to landfill. A huge thanks must also go to the waste team from Copeland Borough Council who collect all the non-recyclable litter that we find.

We will be holding our last beach clean of the year on Thursday 19th December at Whitehaven North Shore and everyone is welcome to come down and join in, there will be mince pies and chocolates to help celebrate a successful year of beach cleaning.

The results are in…

Beach litter collected from Whitehaven North Shore

The results of this year’s Great British Beach Clean weekend have just been released by the Marine Conservation Society.  Over 10,000 volunteers took part in beach cleans across the UK, from Scotland down to the Channel Islands.

We organised a beach clean at Whitehaven’s North Shore as part of the GBBC activities and were lucky enough to have 8 volunteers coming along to help us collect and record all of the litter we found on the day.  While the majority of what we found was plastic (almost 53%) a lot of what we were collecting was fast food rubbish and waste which we were removing from the shoreline before it had the chance to make it into the sea and become part of the marine litter crisis.

We may have only found 1.7 pieces of litter per metre of beach, which is a lot less than the national picture of 5.5 pieces of litter per metre, but that doesn’t make our efforts any less worthwhile.  As always, we want to say a big THANK YOU to all the volunteers who give up their time to help us remove plastic, wellies, buckets, glass, paper, rope, food wrappers, trolleys, cotton bud sticks, tyres and everything else we find while we’re beach cleaning.  Our last beach clean of 2019 will be back in Whitehaven on the 19th December – come along and join in, there may even be mince pies!