Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), an environmental charity protecting United Kingdom waves, oceans and beaches, organized beach clean-ups along the U.K. coastline throughout the month of March, cleaning up tons — 25 tons to be exact — of marine litter. The issue of marine litter may not get the same amount of attention and publicity as the problem of climate change, but that doesn’t make it any less important.
SAS worked to coordinate the Big Spring Beach Clean, which saw an outstanding 3,500 volunteers work together to remove a total of 25 tons of marine litter that had been left scattered along the British coastline. These inspiring volunteers helped clean up 130 beaches across the U.K. As part of the Clean, volunteers took part in the ‘Weirdfish’ competition: participants were encouraged to keep track of the weirdest items found along the coastline while picking up litter. The more interesting items included a Canadian liberal political candidate sign, a set of dentures, a television, a fridge, and a 1970s Tesco yogurt pot — some of those items must have had one hell of a journey.
The problem of marine litter is not new, and it’s not going to simply go away. Cigarette butts take one to five years to break down in the ocean. Plastic bags take an astonishing 10 to 20 years to break down. Aluminum cans take at least 80 years. The list goes on and on. Each year, six million tons of debris get dumped into our oceans. These numbers are frightening.
What can you do about it?
- First, you can take a page out of SAS’s book: organize a beach clean-up in your area. Grab a few friends, and take a couple trash bags to the beach next time you go. Leave with more trash than you came with.
- At home, be sure to recycle anything you can. If you take a lunch to school, work or the beach, use a reusable lunchbox or cooler.
- Most importantly, don’t litter.
Never forget, you can make a difference. One piece of trash may not seem like a big deal to you, but to a marine animal one less piece of trash threatening their environment has the potential to make a huge difference. Surfers Against Sewage takes a stand against marine litter and helps to protect the waves on the U.K. You can take a stand as well. Protect the waves on your beach, don’t wait until the litter rides more waves than you.
Keep an eye and an ear out for their next major campaign coming this summer: Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue Project 2014.