Beach litter is currently at its highest level since records began, with nearly 2,500 pieces of litter for every kilometre on a beach – an increase of 140% since 1994.
The Great British Beach Clean 2017 report revealed that litter levels were up 10% on 2016, with eating and drinking packets and utensils contributing to 20% of all the rubbish found on Britain’s beaches.
Although the number of plastic bags found on beaches has declined, the 2016 report found that the number of balloon related litter was up over 50%. The report also found that there was a seven-fold increase of wet wipes over the last decade, and another rise in the amount of plastic bottles found on beaches. Other commonly found litter included cigarette stubs, packets, lids, string and cotton bud sticks.
It is commonly known that litter on beaches can be extremely hazardous to wildlife. If you are keen to get involved with a beach clean, here are some beach cleaning events, and opportunities to hold your own events, across the UK.
Bottles and bottle tops are among the most found litter on beaches
The Great British Beach Clean 2018 – 15th & 16th September
Last years’ Great British Beach Clean saw almost 7,000 volunteers clean 364 beaches around the UK. The date of the Great British Beach Clean is the 15-18th of September, however there are ‘Beachwatch’ events held throughout the year. Find out more about events near you here. Details about the Great British Beach Clean can be found here.
Big Spring Beach Clean
The Big Spring Beach Clean takes place during the last week of March each year. While this date has passed for this year, there are a number of small beach cleans held throughout the year all over the UK. The Surfers Against Sewage also encourage people to organise their own beach cleans if they find that there are no events in their area. To find a beach clean near you, visit the website map. To organise your own beach clean, find out more here.
Autumn Beach Clean Series
Taking place during the last week of October each year, the Autumn Beach Clean Series focuses on the out of season beach use, when the state of the beaches may be overlooked. Since 2011 there have been 612 individual Autumn beach cleans and 42,898 kilos of rubbish removed. These cleans are also organised by the Surfers Against Sewage. Find more information here.
Norfolk beach partnership beach cleans
The Norfolk beach partnership hold events dedicated to cleaning along the Norfolk coast. On the last Wednesday of each month, a clean is held on the North Denes beach, while beach cleans on Sheringham beach takes place on various Sundays. For more information, visit the website.
A group of volunteers picking litter from the beach
Cleaning events are held all over Cornwall, including beach cleans and community cleans. Similarly to the others, Clean Cornwall gives you the opportunity to hold your own, by providing equipment and advice on what to do with the rubbish afterwards. You can find the upcoming litter picks in Cornwall here.
Organised by North Devon Coast, has organised an ongoing programme working with communities and businesses to keep the coat clean. Have a look at the events calendar to see what’s coming up.
After successfully launching a ‘RiverCare’ programme cleaning the riversides, Keep Britain Tidy have launched a similar cleaning programme for beaches. A sense of community is promoted by working together to keep the coasts clean, offering members a chance to socialise and make new friends in the meantime. Find out more on the website.
Plastic bottles take around 450 years to break down in the sea
What else you can do
The Plastic Challenge, July 2018
As more and more plastic is being found washed up on our beaches, the Marine Conservation Society are holding The Plastic Challenge. The challenge involves giving up single-use plastics and raising money to fight plastic litter. It may seem extremely difficult considering how many pieces of plastic we use per day, however the challenge has demonstrated how resourceful people can be when they need to be.
You can download your free Plastic Challenge starter kit on the website, as well as look through some of the most useful tips.