On the weekend of the 27th and 28th of February Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) joined forces with hundreds of dedicated volunteers, at stunning sites around the UK, to clean their beloved beaches in eager anticipation of spring.
SAS waved goodbye to winter in spectacular style with their most successful spring clean to date, with 8 beach cleans taking place in Cornwall, Pembrokeshire, Brighton, North Yorkshire and Edinburgh. Lead by SAS campaigns staff, SAS reps and volunteer organisers almost 350 volunteers stuffed over 600 refuse bags. Relieving the ocean environment of the burden of over 2 tonnes of man made, marine litter (in just two hours!).
What was sadly unsurprising is that the majority of the litter found was plastics and that 2 tonnes, although amazing, is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. The problems associated with plastics in the marine environment are reaching apocalyptic levels. A plastic bottle will take at least 450 years to break down and whilst this occurs will serve as a magnet for highly toxic chemicals. Marine animals have been shown to mistake plastics for food and at least 100,000 marine mammals and 1,000,000 sea birds die of plastic entanglement or suffocation each year. With there being 1 piece of marine litter for every 48 square centimetres of beach in the UK and that fact that not a single beach on the entire planet is free of man made debris, the problem has surely reached a point that can no longer be ignored.
The facts on marine litter are undeniable and distressing. However, on this, the first day of spring in a new decade, it was possible to feel some hope that we can turn it around. This hope came from the great atmosphere felt at all of the beach cleans and the passion and determination shown by so many people from such a great variety of backgrounds. By Sunday afternoon it was clear that the action of SAS and its wonderful volunteers had made a real and visible difference to the condition of 8 of our beautiful beaches.
SAS Campaigns Officer, Dom Ferris says; “The weekend leaves me with mixed emotions. On one hand it is so inspiring to see all the volunteers donating their time and passion towards caring for their beach, but on the other it is distressing to see the sheer volume of man made litter that’s impacting upon our oceans. The fact that this problem is getting worse adds to that feeling. However with grass roots action like beach cleans in conjunction with SAS campaigns such as our petition to Gordon Brown calling for the implementation of a National Marine litter Strategy, we can and will make a difference!”