Keeping our Beaches Clean & Tidy: How to Do your Bit
The challenge to keep the West Country’s beautiful beaches safe and clean has never been more significant. With governments, campaigners and global organisations all working hard to come up with solutions to the plastic waste crisis, there’s now a profound realisation that we must all ‘do our bit’ if we are to stand any chance of reversing this devastating trend.
Thankfully, the south west can still boast some of the cleanest beaches in Europe, but it’s vital that we all rally together to help keep them that way! Here’s some advice and suggestions for beachgoers looking to exercise their green and helpful fingers…
Unleash your inner eco-warrior
‘Thinking global, acting local’…a slogan used by Surfers Against Sewage, a grassroots movement aiming to tackle plastic pollution and protect the UK’s coastlines. These words demonstrate the importance of collective grassroots action and help us to remember that the sum of many small compassionate deeds can amount to something far greater. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the scale of the plastic waste problem, remember that change can come from the ground up, and in the words of that wise old sage from Middle-earth, Gandalf the Grey, ‘…it’s the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that helps to keep the darkness at bay.’
Less is more
Not all beach rubbish is the result of litter bugs, quite often wrappers and containers can accidentally stray from a picnic blanket on a sudden summer breeze or be spilt from the mouth of an overflowing bin. Make sure you run a tight ship and keep the remnants of your beach picnic well contained. Try reducing your own plastic reliance by switching to long lasting, reusable vessels such as stainless-steel flasks and drinking bottles whilst avoiding coverings such as clingfilm or food foil and waving goodbye to other single use convenience items such as stirrers and straws. Preparing your picnic at home instead of buying lots of pre-packaged fast food items from the shops can also help to shrink your own plastic footprint. Recycle as much as you can; that might mean returning home from the beach with your rubbish and sorting through it later rather than cramming it into the nearest bin.
Leading by example
Sometimes the only way to get things done is to roll up your sleeves and step in where others have walked on by. It’s excruciatingly annoying – and a little bit heartbreaking – when you come across the remnants of someone else’s lunch or snack-time strewn all over your favourite beauty spot. However, the act of going out of your way to clear up some mucky pup’s mess is a truly worthy thing, and you’ll be surprised how good it can make you feel knowing that you’ve stepped out to bat for team Mother Nature. It’s also a great way of setting a good example for others, particularly youngsters. Many like-minded folk have taken up the #TrashTag Challenge – now gone viral – and posted their clean-up efforts on social media to great applause.
Adopt a beach
Many of our guests have a soft spot for one particular south west beach or cove and cannot bear seeing their special place in any other state than its beautiful best. Therefore, you might want to target your efforts by adopting such a setting and making sure it remains as unspoilt as when you first discovered it. It’s part of human nature to form strong and emotive bonds with certain locations and you can use this sense of belonging as motivation for a quick sweep through the sand dunes or rockpools to remove any unwanted rubbish or jetsam. Don’t forget to share your efforts with Toad Hall Cottages to receive a double thumbs up from Mr Toad.
Make a day of it
We appreciate that beach cleaning might not rank top on your holiday ‘to do’ list but more and more people are signing up for organised beach cleaning events and are coming away having loved the experience! Not only is it a chance to meet up with some like-minded people, you’ll also get to explore new parts of our beloved coastline – sometimes enjoying unique access – whilst being part of the green revolution. Organisations such as Keep Britain Tidy, Surfers Against Sewage and The National Trust often run and coordinate such family-friendly get-togethers, so keep an eye on either their websites or social media if you’re interested in getting involved. Other initiatives such as Paddle Against Plastic and the South Hams based Till the Coast is Clear are also keen to promote community involvement in their waterborne clean-up ops which focus on tackling all those hard to reach places. You might decide to turn your early morning beach runs into a spot of ‘plogging’, a Scandinavian lifestyle trend that combines jogging with litter picking.
It’s important to stay safe when partaking in beach cleaning activities and being part of a well-run organised gathering is always best. Use litter pickers and gloves if you have them and avoid picking up sharp or potentially hazardous objects or materials. If in doubt, stay clear and report anything that you suspect is potentially harmful to your local authority, taking care to reference the location. It’s important that tots and youngsters who are keen to help are always accompanied by a responsible adult. Never take any chances with the tides and always follow along and above the high-tide line. Avoid slippery rocks and cliff edges and don’t disturb the local wildlife. For more information of beach cleaning safety, visit the Surfers Against Sewage website where you’ll also find information about how to organise your own event. Remember, every little bit helps, we can all be part of the solution.