UK surfers and water users will be dismayed to hear the latest findings from the Marine Conservation Society, which paints quite a grim picture of the state of UK’s beaches. The society regularly hold beach cleaning events helped by an army of volunteers and the details just released from the last Great British Beach Clean make for quite disturbing reading. In particular it is the Sewage Related Debris category that has increased dramatically, as more and more of the wrong waste is flushed down the toilet with wet wipes alone increasing by 50%
As well as the huge rise in wet wipes being flushed down the loo, there has been an increase of 20% in the amount of cotton buds that have also been confined to the sewage system and ultimately to our beaches. Other items of waste on the increase include cigarette lighters, fishing line, balloons and food wrappers. Astonishingly 2457 items of litter were collected per kilometre of British coastline cleaned by the MCS, an increase of 148 items on the previous year.
The area with the highest amount of beach waste turns out to be Wales, where 6437 items per kilometre were found by the volunteers, although it must be pointed out that a smaller percentage of waste in Wales comes from the public than the rest of the UK. The majority of waste attributed to Welsh beaches is from fishing and shipping litter, and made worse by the merging currents and prevailing winds from the Atlantic.
We can all help to make a difference to these worrying figures by making a few small changes starting with being more aware of the waste we flush down the pan. A piece of toilet paper dissolves in a matter of seconds, whereas some wet wipes are made from polyester and plastic and will take years to break down, as well as visually scarring our shorelines. Think before flushing and as the Marine Conservation Society point out – Nothing but the 3 P’s Pee, Poo or Paper.
To see the whole report (which is well worth a read) you can download it at the official Marine Conservation Society website, where you can also find out more information and get involved in the next Big Beach Clean Up which is taking place at a beach near you between the 7th and 13th of May 2015. Have you seen an increase in litter at you local surf beach and were you aware that not all wet wipes are toilet flushable?