A staggering 600 items of litter were found on every 100 metres of beach in the Great British Beach Clean last year, meaning beach litter is currently at its highest level since records began.
The Great British Beach Clean 2018 – which involved 15,000 volunteers and included surveys on 494 beaches around the UK coast – was the biggest yet. A total of 8,550kgs of litter was picked up across the UK.
Beach cleans are on the rise, meaning it’s easier than ever to get involved. Here’s our guide to beach cleaning events to join in the UK in 2019.
Bottles and bottle tops are among the most found litter on beaches
Beach cleaning events to join in the UK
The Great British Beach Clean 2019: 20-23 September
Last years’ Great British Beach Clean saw almost 15,000 volunteers clean 494 beaches around the UK. The date of the Great British Beach Clean this year is 20-23 September, however there are ‘Beachwatch’ events held throughout the year. Find more events near you via www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/events.
For details about the Great British Beach Clean, visit: www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/greatbritishbeachclean
Big Spring Beach Clean: 6-14 April
The Big Spring Beach Clean takes place at the beginning of April. There are also a number of other beach cleans held throughout the year all over the UK. The Surfers Against Sewage encourage people to organise their own beach cleans too. To find a beach clean near you, visit the website map. To organise your own beach clean, visit: www.sas.org.uk/our-work/beach-cleans/organise-beach-clean
Autumn Beach Clean Series: 20-27 October
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 932 organised autumn beach cleans and 78,378 kilos of rubbish removed. These cleans are also organised by the Surfers Against Sewage. www.sas.org.uk/our-work/beach-cleans/autumn-beach-clean-series
Norfolk beach partnership beach cleans: 17 Feb-8 Dec
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: www.norfolkcoastaonb.org.uk
A group of volunteers picking litter from the beach ©Getty
Clean Cornwall – through the year
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. See upcoming litter picks in Cornwall, www.cleancornwall.org/litter-picks-in-cornwall
Clean Marine – throughout the year
Organised by North Devon Coast, this ongoing programme works with communities and businesses to keep the coat clean. See what’s coming up on the events calendar.
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, www.keepbritaintidy.org/become-care-project-volunteer
Plastic bottles take around 450 years to break down in the sea ©Getty
What else you can do?
The Plastic Challenge, July 2019
The challenge, initiated by the Marine Conservation Society, 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.
Download your free Plastic Challenge starter kit