Rather than just complaining about litter on the beach, get involved and start a beach clean. Visit Beach Cleans to set yourself up with gloves and sharps boxes, then clean a local stretch of beach, to protect marine wildlife. You should notify your local council, land owner or beach manager beforehand to arrange collection of rubbish (Cornwall Council has a page where you can request a beach clean). Let’s have a look at the results of one recent beach clean, to find out rubbish that was found:
- Plastic caps and lids
- Cigarette buds
- Cotton buds
- Fishing line
- Plastic and metal cups
- Sanitary items (pads, tampons)
- Wood & glass litter
- Plastic bags
- Wet wipes
England’s Cleanest Beaches (and not)
From a 2022 survey, Treyarnon Bay (Cornwall) tops the score of England’s cleanest beaches. The other 9 are all in Cornwall, Dorset and Devon.
The same survey profiles the 10 least clean beaches covering (also) Devon and Dorset, the rest being in Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and Lancashire (the swanky resort of St Annes just a few miles from Blackpool rated worst). Maybe the local council needs to glean a few tips from Cornwall. The main culprit seems to be the pumping of sewage that is massively impacting water safety for swimming.
Surfers Against Sewage says poor waste management means we have one of Europe’s worst records for coastal water quality, and only 14% of rivers warrant ‘good ecological status’. This is because private water companies have not invested in new sewer overflows and prefer to spend money paying out dividends to shareholders. Over a third of sickness incidents after swimming, are linked to sewage discharge. If you notice brown foamy water lapping up on your local shore, you can report it. If it smells, Surfers Against Sewage worryingly informs: ‘it’s probably shit’.