“The beach is truly home, its broad expanse of sand as welcoming as a mother’s open arms. What’s more, this landscape, which extends as far as the eye can see, always reminds me of possibility”. Joan Anderson, A Walk on the Beach
After what turned out to be a pretty quick walking day, starting in Lamorna cove and finishing in Marazion, I finished a lot sooner then I thought I would mainly because it was a very flat day and I walked quickly through the towns because after a few days alone you quickly realise that other people can drive you crazy. (also the hiking days are coming next week, I just wanted to blog about the activities I did first, no idea why but I did). By about 4pm I was sat on Marazion beach enjoying the September sunshine, listening to horses running along the shoreline (a lot louder then I imagined them to be) wondering what to do with the rest of my evening and then as if by magic I placed my hand beside me and onto someone else’s rubbish!!
Marazion beach is a beautiful sandy beach that literally goes on for miles, in fact I followed it from Penzance. There are some low sand dunes, the sea is a beautiful colour of blue and you get a stunning view of St Michael’s Mount! Unfortunately where you get beautiful beaches you also get a lot of rubbish, once I noticed my hand was on someone else’s rubbish I started to notice just how much rubbish there was surrounding me, more annoyingly I was a couple of metres away from a bin.
Luckily I always have a canvas bag with me for such an occasion, so I whipped it out and began to fill it, what I found was not only gross but pretty upsetting! Also while you can see my bag above, I am a massive supporter of the Terrence Higgins Trust, if you don’t know what they do you can read more here They are a charity who are trying to break the stigma around HIV and Aides a subject that I feel very strongly about and support whole heartily. As a sexual active woman that has had unprotected sex in the past, including drunken one night stands I have been very very lucky with my sexual health. This isn’t the 1960’s/70’s/80’s any more, these aren’t conversations that should be silenced or whispered about in dark rooms, they need to be spoken about openly and without judgement.
Got carried away there, back to the clean, I spent about 30 minutes picking up rubbish which mainly consisted of plastic bottle lids, baby wipes and tissues. Including a pile of rubbish that was left under a rock, you know so it doesn’t blow away! If we all picked up ten pieces of rubbish every time we went to the beach then the beaches would be spotless, especially in places like Cornwall where the beaches are over crowded in the summer months!
Plastic pollution can now be found on every beach in the world, from busy tourist beaches to uninhabited, tropical islands nowhere is safe.
Scientists have recently discovered microplastics embedded deep in the Arctic ice.
In 1950, the world’s population of 2.5 billion produced 1.5 million tons of plastic; in 2016, a global population of more than 7 billion people produced over 320 million tons of plastic. This is set to double by 2034.
Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans.
There may now be around 5.25 trillion macro and microplastic pieces floating in the open ocean. Weighing up to 269,000 tonnes.
Plastics consistently make up 60 to 90% of all marine debris studied.
Approx 5,000 items of marine plastic pollution have been found per mile of beach in the UK.
Over 150 plastic bottles litter each mile of UK beaches.
Recent studies have revealed marine plastic pollution in 100% of marine turtles, 59% of whales, 36% of seals and 40% of seabird species examined.
100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually.
Even if you don’t care about the environment (no idea how people don’t care in 2019) the number of broken beer bottles I found was awful. Beaches are a great place for families to come and relax, build sandcastles and eat ice cream. Not a place where parents should be worried about their children being cut by broken glass left in the sand.
How does rubbish get in the sea? Two-thirds of it comes straight from land based sources: litter being left on the beach or washed down rivers and drains from litter being dropped in towns and cities. It comes from industry spills, badly managed landfill sites and bins near the coast or by being flushed down the loo. The remainder is lost at sea such as containers going overboard or lost fishing gear.
What harm does plastic do on the environment? For wildlife such as fish, dolphins, seabirds and seals it can be deadly as they become entangled or mistake it for food. Images from the Midway Atoll have illustrated this problem to shocking effect when photographer Chris Jordan captured the remains of albatross, stomachs full of plastic pieces because they accidentally made a meal from our discarded waste. More recently a Cuvier’s beaked whale was found malnourished and dying off the coast of Norway.
Experts had to put the animal down as it was in such poor condition and the autopsy showed a terrifying 30 plasic bags and a large amount of plastic packaging with labels in Danish and English in its stomach and intestines, causing bloackages and pain.
After a very dirty 30 minutes I went for a paddle in the sea and enjoyed a beautiful sunset, spending that time picking up rubbish literally took nothing away from my life, if anything it enhanced. As a child I remember as if it was yesterday the conversations my dad would have with me in regards to littering, from an early age I was always just taught that if there wasn’t a bin near by put it in your pocket until you pass one. It is that simple, rubbish goes in bins!
As I started walking back along the beach to my car I was stopped by a man who jumped over the wall at a local beach pub and asked why I was picking up rubbish. When I explained he thanked me for spending the time to make Cornwall a nicer place and offered to buy me a drink. It was such a lovely jester, he didn’t need to say anything that fact that he noticed me doing it gives me faith that he might pick up the next bit of rubbish he sees.