Nurdles are tiny pieces of plastic that look like lentils. You can find them on many beaches – even though they should not be there. By recording where you find nurdles and roughly how many you find you can draw attention to this plastic pollution problem.
Pick up a plastic item in your home and there is a good chance that it will have been made from lots of nurdles. Nurdles are tiny pellets, produced by big plastics companies that are the building blocks of the plastic products that we use in our homes. But many nurdles are lost soon after they are made – for example may be split while they are being transported from one factory to another. They are easily blown into waterways and drains and so into the sea. Nurdles end up on beaches as plastic pollution – without even having been used to make new products. Like all microplastics they can attract nasty toxins such as heavy metals, making them doubly harmful to anything that eats them. By gathering information on this problem we can help companies using these plastic pellets to understand they need to take action to reduce this pollution.
What do I need?
For your own nurdle hunt you need very little
- Jam jar or container to keep the nurdles in
- Tweezers are useful for picking up the nurdles
- On sandy beaches an old sieve is a good way of sorting nurdles from sand
- This one page guide to nurdles and what they look like
How long will it take?
You can spend anything from 10 minutes to an hour or so on this activity – but be warned – it does get addictive after a while and you may lose track of time!
Where can I do this challenge?
You may find nurdles in the sands at East Head, Wittering and on parts of Langstone Harbour for example Stoke on Hayling Island. On the Isle of Wight you will find them on a lot of sandy beaches including Sandown and also on the south coast for example at Compton Bay. You may be more likely to find nurdles along the strandline on beaches – which will usually be a line of seaweed or debris chucked up by the sea at high tide.
Things to think about…
Make sure you wash your hands after touching the nurdles. Check tides and the weather before and while you are out. Have a look at the Great Nurdle Hunt / FIDRA website page on submitting your findings to see what information you need to collect before you go out. You will see how easy it is to submit your findings and what you need to note down while you are out.
Check tide times as you want to maximise the amount of nurdles you can find! Low tide is the best time to find nurdles as more of the beach is on show.
Want to do more?
Although you can do nurdle hunting any time you can be part of a worldwide nurdle search through the Great Nurdle Hunt which takes place every March. Could you get your school or workplace interested in doing a nurdle hunt and understanding a bit more about this problem? If so please get in touch with Planet Aware.
Some 53 million nurdles are estimated to enter the environment every year. Read more about nurdles on our blog post and on the Great Nurdle Hunt website – and how you can make more people aware of the problem they pose.
Are there any companies near you that make nurdles? Could you write them a letter telling them about any nurdles you have found and ask them what they are doing to reduce plastic pollution? See Challenge 6 for more details. Or look at Challenge 5 if you want to use the nurdles you have found to create some ‘beach find’ art. Combine the two for maximum impact! Find out more about what industry is doing at Operation Clean Sweep.
Try another Challenge!
CHALLENGE 1: Explore those rock pools! Find out some of the amazing creatures that live on our coasts.
CHALLENGE 3: Get litter picking: Set an example and keep our coasts free from rubbish.
CHALLENGE 4: Be an eco-swapper! What changes can you make to help our oceans?
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!