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.
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 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!
As it was the last Thursday in the month we had our regular Colourful Coast beach clean. 32 wonderful people came along to Whitehaven’s North Shore in the bright and chilly winter sunshine.
With this many people we decided to do a litter survey as well as a beach clean. We use the Marine Conservation Society survey methodology so that we can add all of our data to the national picture of marine litter around the UK. Our project officer, Sophie, has spent the afternoon adding all the results together and loading them onto the MCS website. The results can be found her – 191031 Whitehaven North Shore – Survey.
What the results don’t show is the massive amount of net that a few hardy volunteers spent all their time trying to remove. This involves sitting on cold rocks and using a hacksaw to cut through all of the tangled net and then dragging it back up the rocks. Along with 12 bags of rubbish, 3 large pieces of metal and some fencing today was a very good day and we left the beach a lot cleaner.
As always, a massive thank you to our volunteers. See you at St Bees in November??
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
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!
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.
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!
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
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
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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!
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!