Last week the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) was proud to take part in the brilliant Great British Spring Clean.
The campaign had one simple ambition: to bring together people from across the country to clear up the litter that ruins our towns, villages, countryside and coastline.
It was the beautiful coastline of Northumberland's Cresswell beach that the MMO and a host of volunteers including Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Marine Conservation Society and Northumberland IFCA focused our efforts on.
So what would we find?
Within the first 30 minutes of the 2 hour clean we had found hundreds of items scattered across the beach and sand dunes including:
- tractor tyres
- glass bottles
- beer cans
- tennis balls
- cotton bud tips
- cans of oil
Microplastics – what are they?
Blink and you could miss them (see photo below).
These tiny plastics are manufactured solid particles used in exfoliating personal care products, toothpastes and in biomedical and health-science research.
Although small in size they can have long term damaging effects for our seas.
For marine animals, these particles are indistinguishable from their normal food. Even tiny plankton has been shown to feast on plastic.
The plastic then moves through the food-chain as small creatures are eaten by larger ones.
Why did we do it?
Simply put – We love the sea.
Our seas provide food, transport, leisure, conservation, history, wildlife and above all a beautiful backdrop for the UK and it’s our responsibility to take help take care of it.
We can all make small differences from lifestyle changes to helping clean up the marine litter that’s already out there. Keeping the sea healthy will help generations to come and provide a stable sustainable future for all.
Education is vital in making people understand the product in their hand can potentially end up spoiling their day at beach.
Facts and figures
- The world uses over 300 million tonnes of plastic each year
- Almost 36 million plastic bottles are bought every day in the UK and less than half are recycled
- Plastic drink bottles can take 450 years to break down
- Since the introduction of the 5p charge on plastic bags the amount washing up on Britain's coastline has reduced by 40%
- One study estimates there are almost 15 trillion pieces of microplastic in the ocean, but that figure could be as many as 51 trillion.
The Marine Conservation Society run regular beach clean events throughout the country and taking part is just a click away. Volunteer at a beach clean event or even become a Beachwatch Organiser via the website.
It’s certainly a rewarding experience and great way to meet local passionate people.