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Green People’s charity beach clean

04/10/2015 by Poppy

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Green People beach clean

On a sunny day in July the Green People team headed to Brighton to take part in a beach clean with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS). Not only do beach cleans help clear up local coastlines, they also provide crucial data for MCS which helps them assess and target the growing problem of marine litter and the threat it poses to the environment.

Green People works closely with the Marine Conservation Society, donating 30p from every sale of scent-free sun lotion to the charity. To date Green People has raised nearly £30,000 for MCS, helping support their vital work in protecting and preserving our precious marine habitats and the animals that call it home.

What did we find?

Before we got litter-picking, Ed from MCS spoke to us about the most common types of litter that we were likely to find during our beach clean. Most of the litter we would find, he told us, is likely to have been left by the public, however a lot of the rubbish also washes up from the sea, as a result of shipping and fishing vessels and their equipment.

The team was split into small groups and given protective gloves, a bin bag and a survey sheet to document the types of litter collected. The area of the beach we were tasked with cleaning was a 400m by 20m stretch between the two piers, one of the busiest areas of Brighton beach that is close to the popular seafront bars and restaurants. At first glance the beach looked relatively clean and free from litter, however once we started picking and took a closer look, the scale of the problem became clear.

In just 45 minutes the team collected a staggering 1,219 pieces of litter, weighing 12kg in total. That’s around 6.5 pieces of litter per square metre!

The below table shows the different types of litter we collected and documented. As you can see, by far the most common type of litter collected was plastics, including small pieces of broken plastic, plastic bags, disposable cutlery, drinking straws, lollipop sticks, plastic bottles and bottle caps.

We were informed by Ed from MCS that it takes over 1,000 years for a plastic bottle to degrade when dumped in the ocean.

MaterialTotal Number of Items
% of Total
Plastics52143.0%
Polystyrene231.8%
Rubber231.8%
Cloth181.5%
Metal15412.6%
Medical282.2%
Sanitary191.6%
Faeces00.0%
Paper25420.8%
Wood12910.8%
Glass504.1%
Ceramics00.0%
Total1,219

The Marine Conservation Society says: “Nearly every type of plastic on the survey sheet was collected! You can see that plastics continue to make up a large proportion of the litter found on beach cleans, with the majority of it sourced to the public. We do a lot of work on the issue of plastic in our marine environment and you can find out more about this and our other pollution campaigns on the Clean Seas and Beaches pages of the website”

We were amazed by how many different types of litter were present in just that small stretch of beach and how much litter we found in such a short space of time.

Get involved in the Great British Beach Clean

You can get involved by taking part in the Great British Beach Clean over the third weekend in September 2016 (16th-19th) where thousands of volunteers come out to survey beaches across the UK.

Find your nearest beach and join in the beach cleaning fun, it makes a great educational day out for children of all ages and you’ll be helping gather essential information to conserve our marine environments, plus keeping your local beach spick and span! All of the details can be found at www.mcsuk.org/greatbritishbeachclean.

If you’d like to hear about the latest actions you can take to help save our seas, shores and wildlife, sign up for e-news from the Marine Conservation Society.

You can also read our recent blog post about the huge increase in wet wipe litter found washed up on British Beaches.

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