By Jake Hughes
If you have ever noticed people scouring Southsea beach with litter pickers, it will probably be Southsea Beachwatch. For 10 years, a team of dedicated volunteers have been removing plastic and other litter, keeping our coastline in tip-top condition. For the past 2 years Jane Di Dino has led the team, and apart from the beach cleans they always complete a survey in September. Last year the volunteers collected 594kg of litter and found some interesting things along the way.
Including, “circuit boards, a whisk, a Wendy house door, a chandelier, a hanging basket, and a pebble that had been painted gold and wrapped in a purple crochet jacket” The well-dressed pebble was given to one of the children that had volunteered.
As well as tackling all weathers, Jane and the team often run into lots of interesting people. In June last year, the beach was invaded by sharks and lobsters – members of Seaside Shuffle, dressed as marine animals. On another occasion, ‘the Portsmouth Pride Parade came along the promenade — it was so colourful and with the upbeat music it made for a real carnival spirit’ said Jane.
The last September survey recorded 679 pieces (weighing 10kg), over a 100m area, compared to a national average of 558. As well as taking marine litter off our beaches the data collected is used to run targeted litter campaigns across the country. And to influence policy makers by showing them the scale of the problem, and specific areas where action is needed most.
On our beaches, plastic food wrappings from sweets and crisps are the most common type of litter. Cigarette butts are a close second; one of the volunteers picked up 213 during one event. The organisers of Southsea Beachwatch recommends that people take small and easy actions to reduce their consumption of everyday single use plastic to help reduce what ends up on our coastline.
As we head into 2020, we need to take our own bags to the shops and make a home-made lunch for work or school. Carry a reusable cup and portable ashtray. Buy a bar of soap, rather than shower gel and detergent in a bottle. One idea is to take our own containers to takeaways (or find a chippy that still wraps in paper). A small change from lots of individuals will have a huge global impact.
If you would like to join Jane and the rest of the volunteers in February, the event has been confirmed and you can register at https://www.southseabeachwatch.co.uk/our-events