Two beach cleans in two days – what did we find

Last week we had our usual monthly beach clean in St Bees.  10 wonderful volunteers came along to help out and instead of heading towards Pow Beck and under the cliffs of Tomlin we set off with the aim of walking down to Seamill Lane and focussing our attentions on this end of the beach.

There was so much beach litter that we didn’t get very far!  The volunteers diligently cracked on with the task of collecting and recording all the litter they could find.  The results of the survey are below – as always lots of plastic but not as much sanitary waste as we find when we beach clean near Pow Beck, the results can be found here 190328 St Bees – Survey

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In amongst all of the litter there was one exciting find…a pipefish.  These sea creatures are related to seahorses.  Usually found in shallow water, camouflaged amongst seagrass and seaweed.  They’re found along the coast of Britain and eat tiny plankton which they suck up through their snout like noses.  Definitely an exciting find, and a little reward for beach cleaning!

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The next day we were lucky enough to host the North Lakes National Trust team’s start of season meeting.  Along with hearing about all of the exciting things the teams are up to across the whole property (which stretches from Borrowdale to Ennerdale and Buttermere to the coast) we also got 30 of the team out for a beach clean.

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Despite the large numbers of beach cleaners the rubbish we found didn’t pile up very highly – a testament to the fact that we find so much small plastic waste at St Bees.  One challenge we gave to the team was to try and fill a jar with cotton bud sticks to illustrate the issue we have at St Bees.  Well, the team didn’t disappoint!

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712!  712 cotton bud sticks found in one hour by our team.  That’s quite a shocking number.  We’re thinking about what we need to do try and tackle this issue.  If you’d like to see full results of what was found the full report can be seen here 190329 St Bees – Survey

 

 

Beach cleaning and mental health

Visiting the outdoors can have a hugely positive effect on peoples mood, wellbeing and mental health.  ‘Green prescriptions’ and ‘Walks for Health’ are becoming more and more common.  But does this change when people are beach cleaning?  Does the seemingly endless tide of debris and plastic that our intrepid beach cleaners pick up have a detrimental impact on their mood?  Or, does the act of doing something about the problem make people feel better?

The 2 minute beach clean team tried to get to the bottom of some of these questions recently and they’ve just released their findings on their website Beach Cleaning and Mental Health: Survey Results .  The article makes for very interesting reading with some wonderful quotes from beach cleaners about how the simple task of collecting litter has made improved their mental health.

So, does being outside help you feel better?  Does the coast boost your mood?  And what about beach cleaning?  Do you feel better if you know you’re part of a movement helping to tackle this issue?  We’d love to know how you feel.  Or, if you don’t know – then come along to one of our beach cleans and see if it has an effect.  You’ll get to meet likeminded people, have a chat, do something good and often there’s a cake or biscuit at the end too!  All the information on our beach clean cam be found on our events page.

Beach litter collected from Whitehaven North Shore

Beach litter collected from Whitehaven North Shore

A small part of the big beach cleaning picture

For the last two years we’ve organised beach cleans as part of the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean, the biggest beach clean and survey in the UK.

While we’ve only taken art for the last two years, the GBBC and Beachwatch programmes has been running for over 25 years.  In this time volunteers have collected information which has helped make some of the most significant impacts on beach litter ever – the plastic bag charge, microplastics banned in personal care products, better wet wipe labelling, and massive support for a tax on ‘on the go’ plastic single use items.

The GBBC 2018 Report, shows that across the UK on average, a staggering 600 items of litter on every 100 metres of beach that were cleaned and surveyed.  While that’s still a huge amount it’s actually 16% down on last year.

Beach cleaning finds at Whitehaven North Shore

Finding rope nearly as tall as our beach cleaners at Whitehaven’s North Shore

On a chilly and wet September day we did our Great British Beach Clean at North Shore in Whitehaven and found 269 pieces of litter in our 100 metre survey area.  Most of the litter we found was plastic (over 47%), and 64% of the litter we found came from the public – things like bottles, fast food wrappers and cigarette butts.  This is much more than the national figure of 28%.

So, what can you do to help us keep beaches clean?  You can join us on Wednesday 12th December when we’ll be back beach cleaning at North Shore (we bring everything you need, just come along and join in).  We’ve also written an article with a few ideas before to get you started reducing how much plastic you use.  A Deposit Return System (DRS) is under development in Scotland and has been promised for England.  The MCS says the Government now has a golden opportunity to bring in the best system possible – one that will include all bottles and cans and all sizes.  A consultation on a DRS in England is expected to be launched any day now.  Keep your eye on the MCS website and social media feeds to see how you comment on the proposals.

 

 

‘Excellent’ bathing waters at St Bees beach

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published statistics that reveal that 97% of the North West’s bathing waters meet the government’s required standards for water quality.  St Bees beach has achieved ‘excellent’ status, which is the highest, cleanest class and the required standard to qualify for Blue Flag status.  Great news whether you swim, walk, sail, surf, paddle, stroll or play on the beach.

A new classification for bathing water quality was brought in 4 years ago.  The new classifications are much tougher than the previous system of classification but 97.9% of bathing waters in England now comply with at least the minimum standard.  The results are based on four seasons (May to September) of monitoring for the bacteria Escherichia coli and intestinal enterococci in the water so the 2018 results actually reflect the water quality from 2015-2018.  The level of bacteria can be impacted by a range of factors including the weather, e.g. high rainfall causing sewer overflows, or other issues such as pollution from agriculture or urban areas.

Cotton bud sticks found at St Bees

Cotton bud sticks found while beach cleaning at St Bees

 

Alongside a range of stakeholders (including the Environment Agency, United Utilities and the local authorities), hundreds of residents from across the North West have engaged with LOVEmyBEACH to reduce pollution and improve the regions rivers, lakes and the sea.  Even though lots of good work has already been done, there’s still more to do.  Why not see how you can help our coastline from the comfort of your own home by making some simple changes, check out our blog post for a few ideas of how to start.  You can also come along to a beach clean – join us at Whitehaven on 12th December for our last beach clean of the year.  We provide all the equipment you’ll need and even supply biscuits!

Whitehaven beach clean – the results are in!

Yesterday we had a whopping 22 volunteers joining us at our regular Whitehaven beach clean, which is fantastic!  We decided to make use of the big numbers and do a Beach Watch survey of the beach alongside collecting all the litter we could find.

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Together we collected and recorded 623 pieces of litter with over 60% of what we collected being plastic or polystyrene.  The majority of what we found was sourced from the public, which means it was litter dropped by people – we found a lot of fast food waste, plastic bottles, cigarette butts and sweet wrappers.  All of which was picked up by our dedicated volunteers before it was washed out to sea to become part of the global marine litter crisis.

The results from the survey can be found here 181017 Whitehaven North Shore – Survey 17 Oct 2018

Its fantastic to see so many people coming along to help us tackle the marine litter problem.  In total we collected 25 bags of litter, lobster pots, a deck chair and part of a sofa! As always a huge THANK YOU to everyone who came along to help out – especially little Archie who missed a morning at nursery to come down but had a great time.

Whitehaven’s Great British Beach Clean

Once again this autumn we organised a Great British Beach Clean at Whitehaven.  Now in it’s 25th year the Great British Beach Clean, coordinated by the Marine Conservation Society, is the biggest beach clean and survey in the UK.

The information volunteers have collected over the last 25 years has helped make some of the most significant impacts on beach litter ever – the plastic bag charge, microplastics banned in personal care products, better wet wipe labelling, and massive support for a tax on ‘on the go’ plastic single use items.

Trying to get used to the survey forms always takes a little while  so perhaps it was good that the beach at Whitehaven was surprisingly clean.  However, a few steps along the beach and looking amongst the rocks and we soon found enough litter to keep us going.  In total the four of us collected 269 pieces of litter in just one hour.  There was rope, cigarette butts, plastic cups, paper, plastic, glass, nails, lolly sticks and straws.  Joseph even collected some rope that was nearly as tall as he is!

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The rope’s nearly as tall as Joseph!

 

The full report from the beach clean can be found her 180915 Whitehaven North Shore – Survey 15 Sep 2018.  It shows that most of the litter we collected was plastic or polystyrene with paper and cardboard a close second.  Most of this was rubbish we were collecting and disposing of before it reached the sea.  We had surprisingly little sanitary waste which is different from when we beach clean at St Bees.

As always a massive thank you to our dedicated volunteers who gave up their Saturday morning and came out to beach clean in some grey and windy weather!

Great British Beach Clean 2018

As part of the Great British Beach Clean we’ve added an extra beach clean to out usual monthly efforts.

We’ll be heading to Whitehaven’s North Shore on Saturday 15th September between 10.30am until lunchtime to record and remove all the litter we find.  We know from our last beach clean that there is a lot of rope caught in amongst the rocks so we’ll be hoping to tackle some of that and finally get it removed.

Give Sophie an email to let us know if you’re coming down so she can buy enough biscuits for afterwards sophie.badrick@nationaltrust.org.uk

A Great British Spring Clean on the beach!

Well, what a weekend.  The ‘Beast from the East’ and storm Emma had threatened to cancel our beach cleans but with clear roads, clear(ish) skies and low tides we decided to encourage everyone to wrap up warm and head to the shore.

And what a turn out … 26 people at St Bees on Saturday!  The sun even put in an appearance and there was plenty of chatter and treasure hunting going on alongside the shoreline rubbish searching.  As usual we found all the small stuff – plenty of sanitary products, cotton bud sticks, bottles and the ever present bits of unidentifiable plastic.  In total we collected 16 bags of rubbish which is quite a feat when most of the litter we collected could fit into the palm of your hand.

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The weather wasn’t quite as kind on Sunday in Whitehaven, but Jack and his family still came down to tackle the litter at North Shore.  Here, we mostly find fast food wrappers, cups, cardboard and paper and today was no different.  In an hour and a half we had filled 7 bin bags with Jack quickly becoming an expert at finding even the tiniest bits of litter!

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A huge thanks to volunteers who gave up their time to come down and help out.  We beach clean regularly so check out the events page for when and where we’ll be next.

 

 

 

 

Braving the weather to join the Great British Spring Clean

Over the weekend we will be donning lots of warn layers and braving the remnants of the ‘Beast from the East’ to beach clean at St Bees and Whitehaven as part of Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean.

On Saturday we’ll be at St Bees from 2pm – 3pm and on Sunday we’re heading to Whitehaven’s North Shore between 2pm – 3.30pm.

Right, we’re off to buy some cakes to reward those intrepid volunteers who turn up…