23 January 2019
Despite the cold grey skies, Planet Aware was joined at Binnel Bay by 19 volunteers to help clean and carry out a beach survey of litter for the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) on Saturday 19th January. Volunteers collected over 40 kilos of litter in the 100 metre survey area plus many more kilos from the area outside of this. The most unusual finds were a razor, a broom and paint brush handles. There were also a number of white Otrivine bottles which have recently been found in huge numbers all along the South Coast. The most common items found were polystyrene and plastic pieces, caps and lids from plastic bottles and fishing net/rope.
The Marine Conservation Society’s most recent report on litter on our beaches similarly revealed plastic and polystyrene pieces as well as fishing gear to be the most prolific type of litter. Less take away litter was found during Saturday’s survey at Binnel due to its remote location although inevitably items do get carried in the ocean currents so straws and wrappers were still evident. The 2018 MCS report also noted a decrease in litter collected – down 16% from 2017, but this may be because more people are out doing their own beach cleans which helps to reduce the amount found in survey areas.
It is important we make an effort to clean our beaches particularly as the Island relies so heavily on tourism, but collecting data on beach litter and marine pollution is vital. Data given to government and industry can help influence policy and decision making. The information MCS volunteers have collected over the last 25 years has helped make some of the most significant impacts on beach litter ever – the plastic bag charge, microplastics banned in personal care products, better wet wipe labelling, and massive support for a tax on ‘on the go’ plastic single use items. Planet Aware is encouraging people to take steps to reduce marine litter and their overall carbon consumption by adopting a ‘Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair and Recycle’ approach. Saying no to items that are not needed, refilling containers including your own water bottle or coffee cup and mending broken items and clothing will help to reduce our resource use as well as our carbon footprint. While tackling plastic pollution is essential, climate change is still the biggest current threat to our oceans and planet.