Litter has a huge impact on our ecosystems which is why clean-ups are one of the most beneficial things you can do for your environment. Billions of waste makes its way into our Ocean each year and can take as much as hundreds (if not thousands!) of years to break down, resulting in injury to wildlife as well as the pollution of our local environments, food and drink resources. By cleaning up as much as you can, we can prevent this from happening, ensuring our world is a healthier and safer place to live.

Because clean-ups are so important, our Ocean Discovery Rangers at the National Marine Aquarium have been taking part in the Great British Beach Clean this week – cleaning the beaches around some of Plymouth’s coastal areas. As Ocean conservation experts we’ve come up with some things you can do to get involved by organising your own clean-ups too:

Choose a clean-up site

Look around your local area and see which areas need the most attention. It might be a busy coastal area or beaches where fishing nets are often washed up or, if you don’t live near the coast, it could be your local park. Try to choose areas that would benefit the environment most from a good clean-up. Make sure you get permission from the council or local parks agency if you need to access any restricted areas.

Bring supplies

You will need:

  • Trash bags
  • A first aid kit
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Wipes
  • A bottle of water
  • Reusable work/garden gloves
  • Litter pickers (if you have them)
  • Sunscreen
  • Closed shoes
  • Waterproofs

What to do with recyclables

Make sure you recycle any glass, plastic and metals you pick up. Either take it to your local recycling centre or reach out to recyclers in your area to make arrangements with them.  

Get volunteers to help

Go along with your family, friends or co-workers. The more people the better, as they can help you carry items and be on hand in case of emergencies. For your safety, please ensure you stick to your ‘bubbles’, or 2 metre social distancing rules to prevent the spread of Coronavirus and other illnesses. Especially as you’ll likely be handling litter left by other people. We also advise you wear your masks during the clean-up to avoid contagion.

Stay safe!

If you’re doing a clean-up on the beach, make sure you check the tide times before you go to ensure you don’t get cut off by high tide. That way there will be plenty of beach to clean and you won’t be risking your own safety. Always tell someone where you’re going in case of an emergency.

Be aware of slippery rocks and sharp objects. Wear appropriate gloves and footwear and make sure any parts of your body are covered that may touch the litter you will be picking up.

Check the weather

Always make sure you’re fully prepared by ensuring you’re well equipped to deal with the weather conditions. Avoid going out in stormy or harsh weather conditions and wear clothing that will keep you safe. For cold or rainy weather, make sure you wrap up warm and perhaps bring a flask of hot drink with you. For sunny conditions, wear light clothing to avoid overheating and always wear sunscreen, even if the weather doesn’t seem that hot – you can still catch UV radiation if your skin is exposed.

Have fun and take lots of photos!

Spread the word and share the success of your clean up to encourage others to do the same. Not only does it give you a great sense of achievement but, when we all come together as one, it’s amazing what a difference we can make to our Ocean and local environments.

Let us know how your clean-up goes. We’d love to hear from you! Feel free to message us via email or social media and share your achievements with us.