Royals and more join in with Great British Beach Clean

Erin O'Neill By: Erin O'Neill
Date posted: 23 September 2020

People from all around the UK have been getting involved with our Great British Beach Clean this year, running until September 25.

Beached bottle
© Nicola Greaves

We would want to encourage people to use these lovely reusable masks, but sometimes you can’t. It’s so difficult because councils are stretched at the moment.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex

Over the weekend, the Earl and Countess of Wessex joined us on the beach in Portsmouth to collect and survey litter. Sophie and Edward were joined by their daughter Lady Louise Windsor, 16, and son James, Viscount Severn, 12.

The family joined Southsea Beachwatch volunteers litter-picking and recording the items they found.

During our beach cleans we ask participants to record information about the items they find on a survey form, to help inform our future campaigns. This year we asked for information on the number of PPE items, including face masks and plastic gloves, that people find on the beach.

The royal party were concerned about the rise in single-use plastic pollution over the past few months and a lack of advice on how to safely dispose of PPE and face masks.

Sophie said: “We aren’t being told what to do with them. Obviously, we would want to encourage people to use these lovely reusable masks, but sometimes you can’t. It’s so difficult because councils are stretched at the moment.”

The Wessexes found items including fishing lines, bottle tops, straws, food wrappers and glass.

Southsea Beachwatch organiser Jane said: ““It was a pleasure to be joined by members of the royal family and a fantastic way to raise awareness of the vital citizen science work we do annually at the Great British Beach Clean and throughout the year with Beachwatch.”

“The Earl and Countess of Wessex and their children Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn helped clean Southsea beach and were disappointed to find so much single-use plastic, as has become the norm for us when clearing this stretch of beach. We also found a number of PPE items, including face masks and gloves.”

British astronaut Tim Peake, who spent 6 months living and working on the International Space Station in 2016, also got involved with his own beach clean this week.

Some bright pink underwear and an old fishing rod were just two of the items he found on a beach at Chichester harbour.

During last year’s Great British Beach Clean weekend, our volunteers collected over 500 litter items per 100m of beach, with nearly 11,000 volunteers taking part. This year we have been encouraging people to run their own small, local beach clean with friends, family or ‘bubbles’, in line with current Government guidelines.

If you can’t make it to the coast, you can still get involved with our Source to Sea Litter Quest. The plastic bottles, wet wipes and face masks spotted in the UK’s parks and streets will ultimately end up on the beach. Taking part in the Litter Quest will remove these potential polluters and shows how important it is to keep our inland spaces clear, for the sake of the ocean.

If you’d like to do a local litter pick and let us know what you find, you can download the form here.

To find out more about the Great British Beach Clean click here.

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