By Sarah Ward
Living Seas Officer
In the wake of the hugely popular Blue Planet II series, there is an enormous wave of enthusiasm for helping to protect our oceans. In particular, many people are becoming more aware of the use of plastics in our society, specifically wasteful, single-use plastics and the problems they are causing to the environment. This is widespread interest has sparked a passion to do something about it; now this issue is finally being understood and talked about by the wider public – not just conservationists!
A really great way to do something about the issue of plastic in our seas is to go and do a beach clean. Loads of organisations are putting on public beach cleaning events at the moment, so check out local groups or ask your local council – don’t forget that Sussex Wildlife Trust also run beach cleans across the Sussex coast, you can find details of upcoming events in our What’s On guide.
If you’re really keen, you might even want to organise your own beach clean with friends, family or colleagues. Cleaning litter from the beach is fun and rewarding, but there’s a few things to keep in mind to make sure you and your fellow beach-cleaners stay safe. [Please note - if you want to organise a public event, there may be additional health and safety considerations to take into account.]
- Think about your location. Is there easy public access? Are there any hazards?
- Take a look at tide times. You’ll find that the majority of litter collects at the top of the beach and in the strandline, so it’s a good idea to plan your clean for when the tide is on its way out.
- Get geared up. It’s important to make sure you’ve got some protective gloves – litter is dirty and can sometimes have sharp edges. You also might want to use a litter-picker. Try asking your local council, they may have these to loan.
- Think about how you’re going to dispose of the litter you collect. You might want to find out where the nearest public bins are, or check with the beach owner if you think you might collect a lot and require collection. Don’t forget that some items may be recyclable, so check your local scheme.
- Before you go – check the weather and dress accordingly. High winds or heavy rain can make the beach a dangerous place and can make it difficult to carry bags of litter. Don’t forget to remember bags – if you can use a reusable bag this is even better!
- When you’re there – report your findings. You may wish to carry out a litter survey or share pictures on social media. Don’t forget you can report any very large or dangerous items to your local council.