2. Find some nurdles

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.


Nurdles are the building blocks of many of the plastic products in our homes

What do I need? 

For your own nurdle hunt you need very little 

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.

An old sieve is useful for sieving sand in your nurdle hunt

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!

Find out how graduate Phoebe Worley’s nurdle hunt on Hayling Island went
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Nurdles… . Nurdles are tiny plastic pellets (< 5mm in size) used to build the many plastic products found in our homes. They may be small, but they are causing a huge problem. Across the UK an estimated 53 billion pellets enter our seas every year. Their size and often clear colour create a resemblance to fish eggs so marine wildlife consume them leading to ulceration, starvation and potentially death. Not only do they affect our wildlife directly, but they also concentrate chemical contaminants like Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) to the surface of the sea, which has harmful effects on human health. ………………………………………….. So, what can we do? Nurdles wash up onto our beaches where they can change the physical characteristics of sand such as temperature and permeability. We can help reduce this plastic pellet pollution simply by going to our local beaches and collecting, logging, and binning as many as we can find. Today, three of us found over 1000 nurdles in under an hour! Join #greatnurdlehunt @greatnurdler by simply submitting how many nurdles you find, where they were and how long you were looking for. This citizen science project is not only raising awareness but by using your data they can build a growing picture of nurdle pollution, start conversations with industry and government, and work towards finding a solution. The more of us that get involved the greater the pressure becomes for changes to be made. More info can be found at https://www.nurdlehunt.org.uk/ and https://planetaware.co.uk/ @planetawaresolent

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