Last weekend, we went on our summer holiday to beautiful Devon. We chose our destination by going on the Marine Conservation Website (our chosen charity for the year) and searching for beach clean ups.
One came up in the delightful sounding Fairy Cove near Paignton, and we promptly booked ourselves a B&B and headed down to the coast.
After a lovely couple of days exploring, on Sunday we met up with the beach clean team at Fairy Cove. A lovely couple had decided to organise it with the help of the Marine Conservation Society who provided a copy of briefing document and risk assessment to be completed, in return for being covered by their insurance.
They provided litter pickers and gloves, they were disposable, so we decided to go for the litter picker!
At first glance, the beach actually looked clean. We joked about there not being enough litter to pick… but once we started, it was amazing what we uncovered. We found an entire disposable BBQ, a towel, a bikini, and countless baby wipes. Those were hidden under the rocks and in crags of the cliff face.
Once all the big pieces that were easy to spot were collected, we started picking through the line of seaweed where the tide must come to. It was swarming with cigarette butts and polystyrene.
Polystyrene is not usually accepted for recycling and, as with the vast majority of plastics, takes years to break down and will never fully disappear, at least not in any of our lifetimes, or our children and grand children’s lifetimes.
Apart from the environmental impact, according to a report by the National Research Council, Styrene, which a component of polystyrene, is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”. How worrying is that? This is a material used for food and drinks!
After we had cleaned every tiny piece of polystyrene we could find, we swapped phone numbers to let each other know of any other beach clean ups or eco events we were going to, we called it a day and headed our separate ways.
I remained on beach clean mode for the rest of the trip, stopping to pick up litter wherever I saw it, sometimes running across the beach to catch a flying plastic bag or a wayward sweet wrapper. I was on a mission.
I recently came across the 5ThingsClear campaign. They encourage us to each pick up five things per day, if 550 people did just that, we would have picked up over 1 million pieces of litter in one year. You can get involved and tag your pictures with the tag #5thingsclear.
We are also organising our own litter pick on 8 September in our local park where the River Gade flows through. If you're in the Hemel Hempstead area and fancy joining us email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can all do our bit by organising litter picks and picking up rubbish when we see it and recycle what we find. However, the truth is, we’re simply using too much single-use plastic to recycle it. According to the World Economic Forum, we make more than 300 million tons of new plastic from fossil fuels each year—and we recycle less than 10%.
The absolute most important thing we need to do is stem the flow of plastic and needless packaging in the first place.
That’s why I started Vida Eco Shop. To provide an alternative, to help people reduce their plastic usage and to celebrate the amazing businesses who are creating fantastic, plastic free products that are just as good, if not better than the plastic-clad, often chemical ridden alternatives.