I don’t live by the sea – do you?
I may take the odd drive to the coast on a sunny day or stay in Bournemouth for a night when I (far too rarely) visit family in Devon but I must confess, my beachy thoughts are always idyllic.
But there’s a serious side to the upkeep and survival of our beautiful British coastlines that city dwellers like myself wouldn’t really grasp unless we allowed ourselves the time to really understand how the monitoring and maintenance of our beaches impacts us all.
When it comes to the state of our seas, beaches and coastlines it should never be a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
And thanks to the time we’ve recently spent with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), for me, it never will be again.
The UK’s leading marine charity, MCS has documented a steady rise in beach pollution over the past two decades, indicating that there’s a bigger problem at large. A problem that touches every person in every corner of the world; and we want to help.
The Great British Beach Clean
On the weekend of 18th-21st September, MCS runs the Great British Beach Clean at coastlines all over the UK, and we wanted in on the action.
‘Savoolunteers’ Simon and Bianca (pictured below) put themselves forward for the challenge and headed on over to Rye beach to get to grips with what it really takes to keep Britain’s beaches tidy, and why it’s so important that we do.
Upon arrival, our guys met four other volunteers; two individuals from the local area and two from the American Embassy – it was particularly great to hear that Secretary of State, John Kerry, is really behind the cause and keen to raise awareness of the work MCS does.
The volunteers were split into two teams headed up by local Marine Conservationists; Andy and Lucy, and they then began their 100m beach comb. The 2.5 hour clean involved surveying and documenting every item found on each stretch of beach.
The Society combs the same stretch of beach every year to ensure an accurate year on year comparison can be drawn, and beach litter content and volume measured.
The experts monitor what has been washed up and from where to enable them to fairly measure year on year changes in tidal strengths and directions based on the types of pollutants and natural waste that is washed up. During this particular beach comb, Andy and his team found a seed on their stretch of beach that can only be found in the Amazon!
We were pretty impressed by this long-distance traveller but more importantly, this shows how marine protection is a global issue. What happens in one part of the world will eventually impact us in our own country. The natural world has no boundaries and sea, land and air pollution affects us all.
The day spent with Andy, Lucy and the entire team at the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean was eye-opening, and reiterated the fact that keeping Britain’s beaches and seas clean is a complex and global problem. The MCS is working hard to raise awareness and lobby against environment-damaging activities, policies and practices. In fact, MCS was among leading NGOs who joined forces to demand a small charge be added to all single-use plastic bags; helping to reduce litter and waste. This legal requirement came into force today and you can find out more here.