This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Great British Beach Clean. This year, it runs over the weekend of the 14th to 17th September.
What is the Great British Beach Clean?
Run by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), the Great British Beach Clean is the UK’s biggest beach clean and survey. The findings from the beach clean have already resulted in nationwide changes including the plastic bag charge, a ban on microplastic use in beauty products, and better labelling on wet wipes.
There are beach cleaning events all over the country and, in 2017, almost 7,000 volunteers took part across 339 beaches, picking up a total of 255,209 individual pieces of litter.
The litter problem on our beaches
While our attitude towards waste and the environment is changing, beach litter is still a significant problem. And it’s growing, with reports from the MCS suggesting that beach litter increased by 10% from 2016 to 2017. The most common litter is tiny plastics which have broken down at sea from larger debris. The amount of “on the go” litter such as cups, plastic bottles, straws and various packages and wrappers is also significant, making up around 20% of beach litter. In 2017, the MCS also noted a 94% increase in the number of wet wipes found.
On average, 718 pieces of litter are collected per 100 m of beach cleaned, 138 of which are “on the go” waste. This litter is difficult to source, but around 30% of it comes from the public. Fishing waste, such as lobster pots and nets, and sewage-related debris from flushing items we shouldn’t, such as wipes, cotton buds and menstrual products, also account for a significant portion of beach litter.
This has a terrible impact on wildlife. For example, plastic beads resemble fish eggs and many animals ingest them which can lead to starvation, choking or poisoning from the chemicals in the plastic. Debris can also trap and injure animals and kills millions every year.
Join the Great British Beach Clean
If you want to get involved in the Great British Beach Clean, visit the MCS Great British Beach Clean website and register for an event near you. Or, simply pick up litter when you see it! Even taking time to carry out a 2-minute beach clean will have an impact. And, why not share your results and encourage others using #2MinuteBeachClean?
You can also make a huge difference by making some small lifestyle changes, such as:
- Always putting your litter in a bin or taking it with you till you find one – read more about why in our previous blog post ‘Be AnimalKind: Put your rubbish in the bin‘;
- Avoiding purchasing single-use items and switch to reusable cups, bottles and straws;
- Recycling whenever possible; and
- Never flushing non-flushable products such as wipes.
Blog post by OneKind Plant writer Stephanie Rose – find out more about our writers on our About the Writers Page.