Plastic Free July - the Global Movement encouraging us all to reduce our plastic waste, is in full swing.
We've put together a guide to Beach Cleans – what they’re all about, why they’re brilliant for children to join in, and how to find a Beach Clean near you.
What is a beach clean?
Here in the UK we are incredibly lucky to have some of the most beautiful stretches of beach in Europe, from the soft white sand of Porthcurno Beach in Cornwall, to the hilly dunes of Camber Sands in Sussex, and the astonishing rock formations at Durdle Door in Dorset. It’s common knowledge that our favourite beaches are becoming littered with huge amounts of discarded plastic, washed up from the sea after years of single-use plastic finding its way into our drains, but did you know that some of the items are decades old? A ‘Claws’ crisp packet from 1976, and a bottle of rum from post-Prohibition America were recently washed up at Formby Beach in Liverpool. It’s so important to remove these items from our Beaches, to avoid putting marine life in danger, and to keep our seaside stretches clean for our children to enjoy. When you volunteer to take part in a Beach Clean, it’s a great opportunity to meet likeminded people, take in some fresh air, and make a huge difference to your community. As well as cleaning up the coastline, a lot of organisers ask volunteers to note down the litter they find, so that they can track the litter back to source and campaign for change. Litter bags and gloves are usually provided, so you just need to turn up with plenty of energy and enthusiasm.
Are beach cleans good for children?
Beach cleans are a fantastic opportunity to educate children on the dangers of plastic pollution, and ensure that their generation grows up to be responsible about litter. They can also be a lot of fun as children find unusual and retro items and have competitions to see who can collect the most plastic. They’re a great opportunity for older children to make friends, getting them away from their screens and out into the fresh air.
What should we wear to a beach clean?
When you go to a beach clean it’s really important to dress little ones appropriately. Make sure they wear closed toe shoes (such as a good pair of wellies), a weather appropriate jacket or puddlesuit, and a good quality sunhat. It’s also a good idea to take sun cream, sunglasses, some snacks and plenty of water, as well as some hand sanitiser to keep little hands clean, although gloves are usually provided.
Is there a beach clean happening near me this Summer?
There are a number of brilliant organisations who run beach cleans around the country, including the Marine Conservation Society, Surfers Against Sewage, The National Trust, and Keep Britain Tidy, as well as some local Wildlife Trusts such as the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. These organisations run events throughout the year, and the Marine Conservation Society run their Great British Beach Clean in September every year, with this year’s events running from 15th-24th September. During the 2022 Great British Beach Clean volunteers found a staggering 4000kg of litter, so even picking up a few items on your next trip to the beach can make a huge difference.
We hope we’ve inspired you to find a Beach Clean near you this Plastic Free July.