Cans and containers
all over the sand
let's clean up the act
or it gets out of hand!
Great British Beach Clean
16-19 September 2016

Great British Beach CleanGreat British Beach Clean

Great British Beach Clean will be launched once again this September!  Why?  Because the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) knows that the coast is a single environment of its own that needs extra special focus!

The beach clean weekend is into its 23rd year and all the information collected is made into useful data for the Big Weekend survey.  So what kind of things have been discovered?

Well, the fact that there is far too much rubbish to start with!  More than half of litter found is plastic and since the weekend was launched these items have increased by a whopping 135%!  What's more dog poo in plastic bags on our beaches has increased by 11% in just one year - why do people do this!

And a 'top ten items' that made up 64% of the overall rubbish was also pointed out.  These included plastic pieces, rope, sweetie wrappers and bottle lids.   My friend once said 'The hero is the person who lifts the can off the beach.'  And he's right!

I took part in a beach clean up last year and I was amazed at not only the amount of rubbish we collected in just a couple of hours, but the type of rubbish we found - there were lots of cans and plastic and an ironing board!

Mostly in beaches in Scotland I've found myself picking up pieces of litter and it's really annoying.  These coastlines are there for us to enjoy, not to take for granted and ruin!   Plus sand is made of stones, rocks and other objects that have taken years - sometimes thousands of years to be broken down!   Why not just keep your litter until you find a bin?   We recycle all our plastics and once you get into the swing of it, recycling becomes second nature!

Litter can spell really bad news for our marine animals!  Over one million birds and 100,000 mammals die every year from getting caught up in litter as they try to swim through ropes, nets and containers.

It is a problem that can also have severe health repercussions.  Because floating plastic bags can look like jellyfish turtles sometimes swallow them - and other creatures have bits of plastic in their stomachs that can lead to problems and even death.  

I've recently been saddened to read the story of Peanut the Turtle. Peanut was found in Missouri in 1993.  As a young turtle she was trapped in a plastic six-pack ring.  And as she could not free herself from it her shell moulded itself around it giving her shell an unusual shape - like a peanut - hence the reason for her name!  She could easily been prey to other animals, but thankfully she was rescued and now resides in a zoo in St Louis.

Small pieces of plastic and cigarette filters are a major threat.  Animals often don't recognise the difference between what is edible and what is litter!  So they eat the litter and choke, or their stomachs fill with plastic and inedible rubbish and they starve.  

So what can you do to help?  Spread the word and never, ever leave litter anywhere.  If there isn't a bin nearby that's no excuse to leave your litter - you brought it with you, so do the right thing and take your litter home and throw it in your own bin!  

And if you don't have time to dedicate a whole weekend to beach cleaning, you could, next time you and your family are at the beach take part in a 2 minute beach clean - now I'm sure everyone can find 2 minutes at the start or end of their trip to the beach to make time to pick up some litter to help keep our beaches clean.  

But whatever you do before you venture out on your good deed for the day make sure you've read all the safety advice so you know how to stay safe!

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