It may have been heavily overcast and the wind may have had a slight chill to it, but that didn't stop myself and 22 other brilliant volunteers from arming ourselves with litter pickers and tackling the shores of Worthing on Sunday!
I posted back in January about becoming a beachwatch survey organiser for the Marine Conservation Society and the weekend just gone saw my first event go ahead. I was quite nervous beforehand, having never arranged anything like this before, and I was concerned that less volunteers would turn up than the 18 I had confirmed on the site. Particularly as, despite the Saturday being gloriously sunny and (dare I say) Spring-like, the weather on Sunday was that of heavy cloud that was certainly not budging. I was pleasantly surprised when the allotted time came around (an hour after high tide, of course) and lots of people began to arrive, some seasoned beach-cleaners and some (like me!) who were brand new to the game, but all raring to go! We even had several younger (and very eager) volunteers which I was especially pleased to see.
After giving a safety briefing and dividing everyone up into groups, all 23 of us headed over to the 100m strip of beach I had measured out earlier, with clipboards, litter-pickers and bin bags in hand. At first glance, there was a fair amount of rubbish to be collected but once we all got going and started recording each piece we found, it didn't take long at all for the bags to start bulging! I was both amazed and disgusted at the level of litter in such a small area.
A huge amount of cable ties were found as well as fishing line, cotton bud sticks and rope. As would be expected, the vast majority of litter recorded was plastic. Happily, I had several volunteers say to me that they were really enjoying it and finding relaxing and therapeutic. I'm inclined to agree with that and after a while, I wasn't taking any notice of the biting wind, just focusing on the stretch of pebbles at my feet.
I estimated with the number of hands we had that the survey would take about an hour and I was more or less on the money. We piled all of our bags together and I weighed each one individually, finally coming to a grand total of 13.45kg! It really was astounding that we had jointly managed to collect quite so much from only 100m. When you stop and think about the amount of coastline we have in this country though, it's really very worrying to think how much litter is sitting on our beaches. If 23 people can pick up seven refuse bags worth of rubbish in an hour, just think how much more could be achieved if this was carried out all around the UK!
Even though the sun hadn't made an appearance all day, there were plenty of smiling faces as we finished up and started heading back to the car park. Several of the volunteers asked if there would be more cleans coming up and I am certainly eager to arrange future events based on the success of this one. It was really encouraging to see just how many people genuinely wanted to give up their time to do something so worthwhile. As one volunteer said, it really gives you a sense of pride.
In a nutshell, we collected:
-55 metal items
-3 medical items
-26 sanitary items
-31 paper items
-15 wood items
-26 glass items
-3 ceramic items
-615 plastic items!
-37 polystyrene items
-23 rubber items
-72 cloth items
A huge thank you to everyone who turned up and donated their time and energy! You were all fantastic!
If you are interested in future beach clean-ups, visit the MCS website.