‘Oh we do like to be beside the seaside!’
We love spending time on beaches, listening to the sea, spotting wildlife in rock pools, smelling that salty tang on the air. Our beaches get incredibly busy over the summer months, with thousands of people visiting them to enjoy time outdoors in the sunshine and seawater.
The problem is that our beaches just aren’t that clean. Some people leave litter behind when they visit, which is sad. Other rubbish and waste washes up on the beach from the sea. Removing it doesn’t just make the beach a cleaner place, it helps clean the sea too, which is where this litter would end up if it wasn’t removed.
How to find a beach clean
Lots of organisations around the UK organise beach cleans. These are brilliant because they’ll organise all the resources for you, so all you need to do it sign up, turn up and help! It’s also a great chance to meet other people who are passionate about the environment in your area.
The autumn is a good time to clean because beaches are less busy after the summer but may also have post-summer rubbish that’s accumulated. It’s good to clean this up before it has a chance to wash into the sea.
- National Trust – find your local beach clean
- Marine Conservation Trust – beach clean events
- Surfers Against Sewerage – beach cleans
- Countryfile Magazine – beach clean events across the UK
If you haven’t got lots of time but want to make a difference, then a #2minutebeachclean is ideal! In fact, it’s so easy to do you can do a litter pick as you have a nice stroll along the beach or when you’re walking your dog.
The clue is in the name: all you need is two minutes. And if everyone did this when they visited then think of the difference that would make!
It all because of the idea of Martin Dory and Tab Perry in the UK, two keen surfers and beach-goers who came up with the idea over the winter of 2013/14. So much rubbish had washed up onto the beautiful of beaches of Cornwall where they lived, they thought about how much difference it would make if everyone walking did just two minutes of litter picking each and ever time they visited.
Now, you’ll often find boards like those pictured above at beaches. They have some litter grabbers and bags to put your rubbish in. Grab both, then head off for your walk. When you’ve filled your bag with rubbish or finished your walk, pop the littler securely in a rubbish bin (make sure it can’t blow away!) and drop the litter grabber back to the board. Hey presto! #2minutebeachclean done!
DIY beach clean
Want to do something a bit bigger on your local beach? If there aren’t any organised cleans near you, why not organise one yourself.
You could do this through your school or college, recruiting students, teachers and even parents to help. Once you pick a date, put posters up around the school and encourage people to sign up. You’ll need to either ask people to bring a bag or have some you can provide. Local businesses may be up for donating some bags. You may also want to contact the local council to arrange for the full bags of litter to be collected.
Another idea is to contact your local Wildlife Trust and see if they can help you organise a beach clean. They’ll have a good network of volunteers who may be interested in joining in, helping find more people to join the beach clean, or helping organise it. They may also have equipment like litter grabbers you can use.
Don’t forget to spread the word using social media, and by putting up posters in local shops and cafes near the beach.
It’s not just about beaches
While keeping our beaches and seas clean is something we should all aim for, there’s no reason why you can’t do a litter pick elsewhere if you don’t live near the sea!
For example, #2minutebeachclean have partnered with the Canal and River Trust so you’ll be able to find beach clean boards, bags and litter grabbers near many rivers and canals in the UK, and again it’s as simple as picking some littler while you walk, then disposing of the bag in the bin and returning the grabber.
We’ve also heard of people organising littler picks in their local woodlands, parks and footpaths. It all helps!
Beach clean safety
If you want to do a beach clean yourself, you should ALWAYS make sure you do it safely.
- Check tide times to make sure you aren’t going to get cut off by the tide.
- Make sure you go in a group, and let someone know where you’re going.
- Use tools like litter tongs to pick up rubbish rather than using your hands, or make sure you have thick rubber gloves on to keep your hands protected.
- Avoid picking up metal and broken glass unless it can be done safely.
- Give your hands a good wash afterwards, even if you’ve been wearing gloves.