Being a dog-owner and living by the sea, I know all too well how annoying it is to spot rubbish on the beach, let alone dangerous. Bailey, our adorably handsome labradoodle, won’t hesitate in picking up a bit of rubbish – be it a tissue or even an old fish bone.
Marine litter has been a problem for a long time, but one which I seem to have read more about recently.
Down in West Sussex, I feel lucky that our beaches are actually pretty clean, and my local beach in Littlehampton regularly wins, or is in contention for, awards which recognise it’s high standards.
But if we have particularly stormy weather, that can all change.
Litter washes up on shore and suddenly plastic bottles, old fishing nets and scraps of tissue appear scattered across the pebbles. Recently, we found a huge bundle of fishing nets (with some fish still caught in them) lying on the shore. If Bailey had been off the lead, he’d have been over there like a shot and we’d probably be spending a good ten minutes trying to untangle him…
Surfers against Sewage repeatedly campaign about marine litter; organising community beach cleans to keep areas tidy and safe and educating locals about the coast, encouraging them to care for their environment.
SAS report that over the past 15 years, the amount of marine litter washing up on beaches in the UK has almost doubled. This includes household waste, rubbish from beach users, sewage-related debris, medical and fishing waste.
Th majority of this litter comes from the public (40.4% according to the MCS Beachwatch Survey 2012). So surely it’s up to the public to help put a stop to this?
That’s where the Take 3 campaign comes in.
I recently stumbled across this incredibly simple campaign thanks to Surf Girl magazine and one short description was enough to convince me that we should all take part.
Launched in Sydney, Australia, in 2009, Take 3 are a not-for-profit organisation which aims to inspire the global community to help create a cleaner planet for wildlife and future generations.
The entire campaign for Take 3 revolves around the idea that when you leave the beach, riverside or anywhere at all in the world, you should try to take 3 pieces of rubbish with you. If everyone did this, we’d make a hell of a difference.
It’s so simple. It’s so easy. Why has no one thought of this before?
Think about it this way. The vast majority of marine litter is plastic which never truly breaks down. On average there are 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in every square mile of ocean. A normal plastic bottle, for example, may persist for more than 450 years if left on a beach.
FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS!!!!
But it would take about 10 seconds to bend down and pick it up…
Litter on the beaches isn’t just unsightly and unhygienic – it’s causing damage to our ecosystems. When floating in the sea, plastics can absorb toxic chemicals making them increasingly harmful as time progresses. The chemicals can then often enter the food chain as bits of plastic are mistaken for food by fish, seabirds, and other marine mammals.
Consequently, SAS estimate that over 100,000 marine mammals and over 1 million seabirds die every year from ingestion of, and entanglement in, marine litter.
If you care about the environment at all, and if you love the ocean and the beach even just a tiny bit, then please take part in this campaign. It will take no time at all, it’s incredibly simple and if everyone did it, it would be hugely effective.
Pick it up. Bin it. #TAKE3FORTHESEA
(And if you DO have more time to spare, have a look at the SAS beach cleans and try to pick up MORE than 3 pieces of litter…)
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