The UK Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has recently been celebrating 25 years since the start of the Great British Beach Clean – the biggest beach clean and survey in the UK. So it seemed fitting that myself, Holly and Nellie from our Saxmundham and Halesworth branches volunteered to help with the beach clean that was taking place at Southwold with other local businesses – and an army of volunteers!
The beach clean was organised by the Adnams Brewery, perhaps the best known local business in Southwold. Adnams have been beach-cleaning along their adopted 1km stretch of beach three times a year since 2003 – during this time they have seen more than 2,000 volunteers help out and collected around 1,000 bags of rubbish.
It being the middle of September, it was anyone’s guess what the weather would be like – fortunately, the skies were clear and the sun was shining, making for a pleasant and leisurely stroll across the beach as we broke off into small groups. We recorded and bagged each item of litter, helping MCS to build up a picture of the state of our beaches and making it a safer place both for wildlife and for local people.
Beach litter remains a huge issue and has received widespread public interest since the BBC’s ‘Blue Planet 2’ aired last year, putting a spotlight on plastic waste in our oceans. There are on average 5,000 items of plastic per mile of beach in the UK alone1. Every piece of this litter can be a threat – not just to the wildlife that get caught in plastic or accidently eat it – but to humans as well.
It was a highly rewarding experience and felt great to be able to do our bit, no matter how small. Plus, as we had signed up to take part in advance, we were treated to a surprise meal of traditional fish and chips at the Harbour Inn – a well deserved treat that rounded off a great morning!