Posted 19th Sep 2015
Every year the Marine Conservation Society (MSC) hosts its annual beach clean to encourage the nation to clean up their act and save our beaches from pollution of everyday items we would normally overlook. During the Great British Beach Clean (18th to 21st September 2015) we find out the impact of last year’s clean and what was found on our beaches
In 2014 the Great British Beach Clean saw a record number of pieces of litter cleared from our beaches by dedicated volunteers who worked tirelessly and put in more hours than in previous years. The efforts of the 5,349 volunteers saw 101 different types of litter picked up from beaches across Britain. An astonishing 2,457 bits of rubbish from plastic bottles to make up and even televisions were found per kilometre, a rise on 2013s number of 2,309 – a record at the time – and with more than 300 beaches being cleaned during the four-day event, it’s safe to say our beach pollution is not to be ignored.
As The Great British Beach Clean heads into its 21st year, beach pollution is up 20 per cent over the last 10 years despite the introduction of the beach clean in 1994. Since then 5.3 million bits of litter has been found along 3,000km of beaches, that is 150 tons of rubbish clogging up our shores thanks to our bathroom, shipping, fishing and foreign waste. But did you know that your bathroom waste was finding its way to the coastline?
According to water companies, 70 per cent of blockages within our water system are avoidable, everyday items that many believe to be flushable but are in fact not, with the biggest culprits being wet wipes that, along with many other household items, have slowly become an increasingly popular item to dump over the years. Plastic, fishing lines, wrappers from sweets and lollies, plastic caps and lids, cigarette lighters and even balloons have become a growing problem as well. Surprisingly some litter has seen a decrease with the number of cotton buds and cigarette packets having fallen.
But the problem isn’t always so obvious. According to the MCS, even popular shampoos and shower gels contain plastic that then is lost down the drain and deposited into our oceans, creating a ‘plastic soup’, harmful to our beloved sea creatures, and difficult for us to tackle. Though the majority of litter is on the increase it is the items being unearthed during the beach clean itself that is causing a stir.
So how did it get there? Well, fly tipping has been pinpointed as one cause, things such as Christmas trees, fairy lights, decorations and other bulky items have found their way onto our beaches, abandoned because of their seasonality. Waste from fishing boats such as buckets, lures and nets wash up on shore, leaving you to wonder if they’re being missed by those who have lost them overboard. Partygoers on nights out on the town have used local beaches as hot spots, leaving behind beer bottles, drinking straws, high heels and socks, while an array of bathroom essentials have washed ashore including toothbrushes, razors, floss, combs, hairbands and clips, as well as luxuries such as perfume, lipstick and mascara.
So what can you do to help? Well, this year the Marine Conservation Society will be holding it's annual Great British Beach Clean from 18th to 21st September, with beach cleans having been organised across Britain, and to find one near you all you need to do is visit the Marine Conservation Society's website. You could help make a difference to our coastlines this year, and make our beaches beautiful.
By Lauren Morton
Images courtes of Natasha Ewins