This guest post was written by the lovely Lisa of Kirk & Bert, a lifestyle blog following her journey to an organic and chemical-free home. You can find her blog right here.
Beach Cleans; the Hidden Benefits
Since Blue Planet II came to our screens last year I have become very aware of the plastic pollution crisis facing our oceans. Living in Cornwall it is difficult to miss the plastic that washes up on our beaches, ranging from large fishing trays to tiny fragments of polystyrene which have been broken up by the action of the sea.
There are people out there who question why anyone would want to go to the beach and collect other people’s litter. There is also the argument that the majority of the plastic in our oceans comes from countries such as China and India and that it is those countries who need to take action if we are really going to solve the problem. Whilst there may be truth in this it doesn’t mean that nothing needs to be done in the UK, especially if you consider that each piece of plastic can stay in the ocean for hundreds of years, gradually getting broken up into smaller and smaller fragments.
For me, finding the motivation to get involved is not difficult when you see pictures of sea birds and marine mammals tangled up in netting or with their stomachs full of plastic and thanks to online movements such as #2minutebeachclean and the national campaigns run by Surfers against Sewage it is easy to get involved at the local level.
However, for those of you who are still not convinced here are some of the reasons why I collect plastic from our beaches:
- To protect the environment –This is the most obvious reason to get out there and get involved. When a plastic bottle takes 450 years on average to degrade it seems like madness not to pick it up, take it home and pop it in with your household recycling.
- Mindfulness – Wandering along the strandline of a deserted beach first thing in the morning can be magical. You can let your mind wander whilst listening to the crashing waves and for me it doesn’t matter if I am collecting sea glass or plastic, I always come home feeling awakened and more positive from being out on the coast.
- Get involved with your community – There is a great community element to beach cleaning, both online and locally. In Cornwall there are regular beach cleans where you become part of a bigger environmental movement. There are also ‘Plastic Free’ groups popping up all over the country where you can share tips on ways to reduce plastics and keep the pressure on supermarkets and the Government to take action.
- Experience wildlife – When you are out regularly looking at the strandline you notice a lot more things. Since I have started beach cleaning I have seen some amazing wildlife, including a smooth newt and a Bobtail Squid.
- Educating the younger generation – children love learning about animals and marine life and it is so important to teach them about what is happening in our oceans and how they can help. Plastic pollution is an environmental issue that even the youngest of children can understand and most importantly, it is one where they can be part of the solution.
- Funny stories to share – Beach cleaning with my children has led to many funny incidents but the most recent one, which caused a fair amount of chaos and some quiet chuckling, was when my 4 year old daughter was pretending that a length of tube we had found was a telescope. She was concentrating so much on looking through it that she didn’t notice the pool in front of her and waded straight in fully clothed. Luckily it was in the summer!
For those of you who do not live near to the coast you can also get involved through litter picks in your local area. Every stream and river leads to the ocean so there can’t be a better way to help then by stopping it getting into the sea in the first place. So whether you are a lone beach or river cleaner, or part of a community group, get out there and pick up those bits of plastic that you see as collectively we can make a difference.
If you are also interested in reducing your plastics in the home I share helpful tips via my blog, twitter and Instagram accounts.
Don’t forget to go and read my guest post on Lisa’s blog, all about reducing your household waste and what really happens to your recycling…