Last weekend, I headed north to Leven to take part in the first OneKind beach clean. I’ve been interested in doing one for a while so when our Fife volunteer group suggested we do one, it was a great way for me to begin my beach clean journey, and I still can’t believe how much rubbish we found.
Since I started on my plastic free journey, I’ve been amazed at how many people still opt for plastic products like bottled water, but what’s even more shocking is the number of people that just leave their rubbish lying around. Not only is there no effort to recycle it, but there’s not even any attempt to find a rubbish bin! I mean if there’s no bin around then just keep hold of it until you get home.
During our beach clean we were joined by some volunteers and locals who regularly took part in cleaning the local beaches including Mike from Happy Beaches and Fife Coast and Countryside Trust who let us borrow a skip to put all our rubbish in. Mike was also the hero who drove up and down the beach in his car to empty our rubbish bags for us so we didn’t need to carry them up and down the beach.
We gathered a total of 450 litres of rubbish! I was expecting to collect a lot, but I don’t think anyone though we’d gather nearly as much as we did.
One of the most common items I came across was wet wipes or face wipes. There’s been so many reports in the past few years about them clogging up sewers with the wipes responsible for 93% of blockages in UK sewers. There are also millions of them sitting in landfills across the country. The wet wipe industry is huge with face wipes, cleaning products and baby wipes lining the supermarket shelves. I’m guilty of having used these wipes in a previous life, but they are such an unnecessary product. I use reusable cloths in house instead of anti-bacterial wipes and either reusable wipes (I literally cut up an old t-shirt to make some) or simply face soap (package free of course!) when washing my face. I know people opt for them for convenience but there’s so many eco-friendly ways to wipe things than with a plastic wipe.
The other items we found include lots of straws, cotton buds, bottles, bottle tops, and food packaging. I even came across lots of crisp packets that had been buried in the sand and soil, so had obviously been there for quite some time. We also found shoes, socks, a belt and other various miscellaneous items.
Scotland is surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen, so it’s shocking that people just dump their rubbish with no regard whatsoever for the environment or marine life. The fact that so many of the items we found were plastic just shows how bad the plastic pollution problem in the world is. We don’t need plastic water bottles or wet wipes or straws. What we need is for people to start realising how damaging plastic is to the world around us.
And as for me, I’m really looking forward to making beach cleaning a regular thing in 2019. There was something very relaxing about walking along a beach and collecting litter, I just hope it’s not as cold and wet the next time.