COVID-19 has triggered a major shift in consumer behaviour, with a vast majority of people reverting back to the traditional ways and supporting their local community. Whether it’s in the form of swapping supermarket shopping to local organic eateries or bypassing big retailers to help local fashion stores – supporting one another is a trend that is being highlighted on a national scale.
While we mention this in an economic sense, it is important to consider other parts of the community which would require additional help, one being your local beaches…
During lockdown, thousands of Britons have flocked to the coastline to escape their homes and capitalise on the sunshine – leaving behind a colossal of beach rubbish. The word ‘unprecedented’ is used a lot at the moment, but there has been an unprecedented amount of rubbish left behind during these lockdown outings. The result? Major pollution to the community and its ecosystem.
In light of this discovery, we thought it would be useful to shed some light onto the importance of local beach clean ups and how you can support your community to make a change that matters. Whether it’s as simple as picking up small amounts of trash or even organising your own beach clean up, it’s important to understand that the smallest differences can make a huge impact. Here’s how…
What is a beach clean up?
The purpose of the event is fairly self explanatory; to clean the beach.
A beach clean up is a volunteer activity, whereby local residents and charities congregate on the coastlines and clean up litter and other debris that is manifesting the shores.
Why have a beach clean up?
Beach Clean-ups are more than just about creating a coast that is aesthetically pleasing for both residents and tourists when visiting. While a clean and hygienic beach is of paramount importance, removing litter from the shores is the most beneficial for the ocean ecosystem – the biological community which is most affected by the rubbish.
It is estimated that up to 13 million metric tons of plastic ends up in the ocean each year—the equivalent of a rubbish or garbage truck load’s worth every minute. Fish, seabirds, sea turtles, and marine mammals can become entangled in or ingest plastic debris, causing suffocation, starvation, and drowning.
Marine plastic pollution has impacted at least 267 species worldwide, including 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all seabird species and 43% of all marine mammal species.
Beach clean-ups are thus an extremely important event to help mitigate the problems caused by ocean debris and danger inflicted on marine life as a result of plastic pollution.
Clean-ups also provide ample opportunity to gather important data about the state of our coasts and the types of trash that pollutes them. It would be naive to presume that we can completely eradicate this plastic epidemic entirely. However, identifying the most harmful debris items ensures that environmental groups can find ways to stop them from entering the oceans or being littered on the beaches. Data driven strategies can then be put in place to reduce the numbers of plastics entering our waters daily.
Beach clean ups have seen major success over the years. For example, surfers against sewage, a community of determined surfers fighting for ecological change, actively host a range of beach cleans ups annually. Since 2010, they have had over 120,271 volunteers at over 2,578 events across the UK – removing a total of 284,689.92KG pieces of plastics that would otherwise have ended up in the ocean and affected the welfare of marine life.
How do beach clean-ups help?
Think of the beach as a bridge between the land and marine environment. It is a critical biodiversity area. Consequently, cleaning our beaches is a step towards cleaning our oceans.
Besides from the health and well being of the marine ecosystem – which ultimately affects us all – beach cleans up can directly impact the local community as well – most directly the local economy.
Indeed, coastal and marine waters support over millions of jobs here in the UK. Tourism also contributes over £106 billion to the british economy annually – many of which come directly for individuals visiting coastal towns and beaches.
Furthermore, polluted waters can also cause major illnesses amongst the local community. You need only look at the situation in Biscayne bay, Miami, to see the devastation of pollution, killing a vast amount of local produce and creating a dangerous habitat to drink and enjoy.
Beach cleanups are also an important opportunity to educate the public and showcase the power and potential of working in unity to achieve a vital goal – saving the oceans.
How to plan a beach clean up?
You don’t need to wait for a local beach clean-up so that you can start cleaning your beach. You can organize one. All you need is some planning and a group of volunteers as passionate as you are in getting rid of the trash in our beaches. Just remember to do these basic steps.
- Choose a beach in need of a clean up
- Pick an ideal schedule
- Get permission from local authorities
- Find volunteers
- Plan out your logistics and your materials recovery and segregation plan