According to MCSUK, 425 litter items were found per 100m of beach surveyed at last year’s Great British Beach Clean.
30% of all of that litter collected was face masks and PPE.
Yet, it’s not all bad news! Since the introduction of the 5p carrier bag charge, plastic bags have reduced by 55%.
For those of us who live by the sea, we know that in these summer months people flock to the beach to soak up the sun.
Quite often what’s left behind looks like the aftermath of a wild party.
Protecting our wildlife and keeping our beaches clean should be a matter of importance to all of us.
Whether you live on the coast, or you’re just visiting, here’s our guide to how, why and when to get involved in a beach clean.
How to join a beach clean up in the UK
As summer draws to a close, nationwide campaigns are launched to clean up the UK’s beaches.
Cleaning for two minutes at a time. The 2 Minute Foundation asks that you spend two minutes collecting litter, take a picture to share on social media and download their app to log the different types of litter collected.
Organise your own clean or join someone else’s? The Million Mile Beach Clean gives you the opportunity to do either. You can clean any location at any time, remember to track your distance on Strava, submit your results and use the hashtag #millionmileclean.
Running for two years already, Great British Beach Clean wants you to join a clean or organise your own! All you have to do is record all the items of rubbish you find on a 100m stretch. This litter survey collects data that can be used to make a real difference.
If you are looking to find a beach clean that’s local to you, Great British Beach Clean have a helpful tool. Using your postcode and dates you’d like to join in, you can find beach cleans near you. It makes it that much easier to get involved!
pebble’s Beach Clean Guide
Here’s seven tips and tricks on undertaking your first beach clean!
1. Stick with sensible clothing. Don’t be tempted by the fact that you’ll be at the beach, no bikinis here! Closed toe shoes with good support are your best bet. Remember, our British beaches don’t always include nice weather. Think ahead and check the weather. You might need more layers than you think, it doesn’t hurt to be too prepared.
2. Protect yourself from the sun. If by some miracle it’s sunny on your beach clean, be sensible about protecting your skin. Make sure you are slathered in suncream and wearing your sunnies. Don’t forget a nice wide brimmed hat too!
3. Arrive on time. If you are attending a large organised beach clean, be polite and arrive on time. Organisers will need to take note of how many volunteers are in attendance and also give a very important safety brief. You don’t want to miss that! Watch the clock and make sure you get there on time.
4. Bring your own. Many organised beach cleans will have their own supplies of bags. Yet, bringing your own won’t hurt especially if they run out! It’s a good idea to bring your own bucket or bags and a pair of gloves. Gardening gloves will protect from sharp objects and medical gloves will help protect you from any nasty germs.
5. Be careful! If it exists and is used by humans there is a good chance that you’ll find it on our beaches. Yes, even the unmentionables. Gloves will protect you from most things but be careful of anything sharp or leaking. There is an exception to this rule: don’t pick up any needles. Alert an organiser and they should have a sharps box to deposit needles into, keeping you and our wildlife safe.
6. Watch out for the wildlife. A general rule of thumb is if it’s alive leave it be. You are there to collect litter and not disturb the wildlife. If you come across any injured animals, talk to your organiser. They might be able to direct you to local charities that can coordinate care for the animal and nurse it back to health.
7. Write it down. Many beach cleans require you to note down what sorts of litter you have collected. This is extremely important as this data helps us to see what items of litter we have a lot of. This data can be used to campaign for change such as the introduction of the 5p carrier bag charge. Once this charge had been introduced we saw a 55% reduction of plastic bags on our beaches!
Want to take your understanding one step further?
- Learn more with the best documentaries on conservation or the books to read to discover the UK with
- Understand the complex issues around plastic pollution
- Find out where to find some of the most grad forests in the UK or which serene nature reserves to go to
- Discover how our peatlands and our seagrass meadows are the key to a Zero Net UK
- See what you can do to help conservationists with these great apps