What will you find on the beach?

This post was written by one of our Sea Champion volunteers, Amy Parker.

“What do you think this is?”, is the question I get asked a lot at beach cleans, as the amazing beachwatch volunteers take on the role of detectives, trying to identify the origins of the fragments of litter that they have found in the sand and rocks.

On the beach where I organise cleans, just outside Bristol, it’s a bit more like a treasure hunt, finding small bits of litter in amongst the stones and tangled seaweed. We find all sorts on beach cleans, such as fishing gear, computer motherboards, medical waste, car parts, thousands of cottonbud sticks and the most common finds, which are food and packaging related rubbish. Although many items are can’t be identified (as the action of the sun and waves slowly breaks the plastic down into tiny pieces), much of it consists of plastic food wrappers, bottle caps, straws, drinks cans, wet wipes, polystyrene cups and the general remnants of your average picnic lunch.

This summer’s unusually hot weather has drawn record numbers of people to the coast and the chance to cool down in the sea, so I am imagining our next beach clean will be a big one! If you are planning a trip over the August Bank Holiday, when the bins are normally overflowing and the seagulls are causing havoc (in Cornwall recently I had to wrestle a bag from a seagull who was trying to eat it!), please make sure you take all your rubbish home with you, even the inevitable crisp packets and flip flops that get hidden in sand. Better still, try a plastic-free picnic and reduce what you have to carry home. Once the rubbish gets on the beach, it will stay there causing serious damage to the sea life, especially the plastic items that won’t break down for years and years and years. In that time it can harm everything from birds, fish, seals and whales- even seaweed gets damaged by litter.

The more everyone can do to stop pollution on our beaches, the better our coasts will be for everyone to enjoy. Be a Sea Champion today and #binit4beaches and if you would like to do more, join the 25th annual Great British Beach Clean this September.