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!
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 email@example.com
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.
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!
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.
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…
While beach cleaning at St Bees today we found our first piece of washed up Lego in amongst the usual plastic debris. Why is this so interesting you might ask, well, we’ll try and explain…
On 13 February 1997 a container ship, the Tokio Express, was hit by a wave about 20 miles off the Cornish coast. The wave tilted the ship so violently that 62 containers were lost overboard. One of those containers was filled with nearly 4.8 million pieces of Lego, many of which were nautical themed. Soon after cutlasses, flippers, scuba gear, seagrass, spear guns and the odd octopus began to wash up on Cornwall’s beaches. So it’s possible that our tiny piece of Lego sea grass has been bobbing about in the ocean, not breaking down, being nibbled by fish and other marine creatures for over 20 years before drifting ashore on our coast to, finally, be found in a beach clean and stop being part of the marine pollution problem.
Plastic in the sea doesn’t just decompose, or go away. Our last blog post has lots of ideas about how you can reduce the plastic you use everyday, or if you want to see if you can find some #legolostatsea of your own join us on our next beach clean, all the details are on our Events page. To find out more about the lost Lego and see when other pieces have been washed up have a look at the Lego Lost at Sea facebook page.
On Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 October we joined the Surfers Against Sewage team for the Autumn Beach Clean Series to collect litter and washed up rubbish at Whitehaven’s North Shore and St Bees Beach.
The weather was kind on both days and over 30 volunteers gave up their weekend afternoons to come along and join in. As always the amount of plastic pollution was astounding. We spent two hours at each beach and there were so many cotton bud sticks, strings from balloon releases, straws, single use plastic bottles and sanitary applicators that we gave up counting and just kept on collecting. In St Bees alone we collected and removed 22 bags of litter. Fast food packaging, wet wipes, cutlery and rope were also, unfortunately, in abundance high up on the tide line having been washed up during recent storms.
Much of this waste could be avoided with a little bit of though or planning. Some simple (and easy) tips are:
- Take a reusable cup to the coffee shop
- Recycle cans and bottles – don’t chuck them on the ground or in the bin
- Most importantly remember that only the three P’s should go down the toilet – pee, poo and paper!
The weekend of 16 & 17 September was the Marine Conservation Society’s annual Great British Beach Clean. Unlike other beach cleans, the focus at these events is to survey and record the types of litter collected as well as clean the beaches.
These events happen all over the country and we organised two events in the Colourful Coast area. On Saturday we headed to St Bees and with a team of 13 volunteers cleared 9 bags of litter, mostly small plastic, cotton bids and bottle caps which had been brought in and pushed up the beach by the recent high tides and stormy weather.
On Sunday a hardy group of 14 volunteers met at Whitehaven’s North Shore and tackled the litter problem there. Lots of fast food wrapping, drinks bottles and cigarette butts were collected here, some of which hadn’t even seen the sea and had blown from the nearby parking areas – a very different type of letter from St Bees. 14 bags of litter were collected in total, along with drums, containers and two disposable barbeques. As with the St Bees event Copeland Borough Council kindly came to collect it all.
All the data was added to the MCS website and if you’re interested in what we found you can follow the links for the survey results from both beaches:
170917 Whitehaven North Shore – Survey 17 Sep 2017
170916 St Bees – Survey 16 Sep 2017
We’ll be organising more beach cleans in future so keep an eye on the events list and come along to help out, we provide all the tools you’ll need and often there’s a cake or chocolate biscuits afterwards to say thank you for getting out to help!