3. Do a mini beach clean or litter pick

Whether you choose to clean up an area in your street or the beach it all helps! Cleaning up litter encourages others to think about how they dispose of their rubbish. It sets a great example, leaves an area less polluted and leaves you feeling like you’ve done a great deed for the day!

Our marine environment is home to so many amazing creatures from one of the largest, the blue whale to one of the smallest zooplankton. Sadly, each of these creatures  is increasingly challenged by the waste we produce. UK households alone produce more than 31 million tonnes of rubbish each year! A lot of this waste will go to landfill or be incinerated and even recycling has many issues especially when we still send much of it to other countries to be processed. 

Litter in our streets, parks, countryside and beaches is unsightly and can cause harm to creatures on the land and in water courses. 80% of all marine litter comes from land based sources. Thousands of animals die because they either eat or get tangled up in marine litter, much of which is plastic and this plastic debris is not good for human health either as it enters the food chain with associated toxins. 

A simple 5 minute beach clean or litter pick may be enough to save an animal’s life as every piece collected is one less piece that could be eaten or could go on to entangle. Litter encourages litter so cleaning up encourages others to act responsibly

It helps to have a lovely day for your clean!

What do I need? 

  • Gloves and /or hand sanitiser.
  • A litter picker is helpful but not essential.
  • Bring a small bag to collect your rubbish in.

How long will it take?

Every piece of litter that you remove from the beach or street makes a difference. So beach clean for as long as you want to – from 2 minutes to 2 hours!

Where can I do this challenge?

Anywhere there is rubbish! Make sure that you choose somewhere that is safe to clean and that you have permission to go on the land. If you want to do this challenge as part of a group there are lots of organised beach cleans you can join in.

Things to think about…

Do not pick up anything that could harm you. That means do not touch dog poo bags, nappies, anything that is sharp like broken glass and avoid touching used plastic gloves/ PPE.

Do not pick up syringes or anything suspect. Syringes and anything that might cause significant harm should be reported to your local authority. Take your own gloves off carefully so that you do not touch the outside and wash them and your litter picker (and your reusable bag) with soap and water when you get home. Dispose of your rubbish at home rather than in a street bin where possible.

As you collect your litter make a mental note about the types and numbers of items you found. For example: Did you find lots of cigarette butts in the street – how might these end up in the Ocean?

What items of litter do you find the most?

Want to do more?

Get involved in an organised beach clean – look out for ones run by the Marine Conservation Society. Every September they run the Great British Beach Clean – you can take part in an existing clean-up or organise your own! Check out Planet Aware’s guide to beach cleaning to get you started and have a look at our Solent and Isle of Wight Beach Hub!

See Challenge 4 and start reducing the amount of things you use and waste.

CHALLENGE 1: Explore those rock pools! Find out some of the amazing creatures that live on our coasts.

CHALLENGE 2: Go nurdling! What are these tiny pieces of plastic and where do they come from?

CHALLENGE 5: Create some sea-inspired art! Find inspiration on the beach.

CHALLENGE 6: Tell someone about the oceans! Put pen to paper or find another way of telling someone what matters to you.

CHALLENGE 7: Design a poster! Use your experiences to create a poster for next year’s Ocean Challenge!

Find out more about Planet Aware’s recent mammoth beach clean with Isle of Wight Distillery!