On June 28th we held our first Big Suffolk Beach Clean event across Southwold beach and Orwell Country Park in Ipswich.
Around 40 volunteers took to the coastlines of Suffolk to collect rubbish in order to preserve the natural beauty of our shorelines and to help protect the marine wildlife.
In total we collected 24.5kg of rubbish at Orwell Country Park, plus 13kg of glass! And in Southwold we collected 15kg of rubbish, with a mix of plastics, fireworks, cigarette butts, chip forks and lolly sticks.
It was such a worthwhile day at both of our events. Even though the beaches looked clean on the surface, we managed to fill several bags at both locations. There were lots of small pieces of rubbish that would have otherwise either have broken down into microplastics and found their way into the environment or potentially have harmed wildlife directly and glass that would have been dangerous for wildlife and visitors enjoying the nature at Orwell Country Park.
To give you a flavour of just how serious the issue of pollution in our oceans is, take a look at the following stats:
- Some studies have shown that the average person eats at least 50,000 particles of microplastic every year, with fish and seafood being a major reason why (source)
- In the River Blackwater in Essex, scientists found 15 pieces of plastic per litre, with microplastic pollution found in every UK lake, river and reservoir tested (source)
- Land based sources such as agricultural run off and pesticides account for approximately 80% of marine pollution globally
- There are now close to 500 dead zones covering more than 245,000 km2 globally, equivalent to the surface of the UK
Plastic debris causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as the deaths of more than 100,000 marine animals (source for 3, 4, 5)
The beach clean was also used as an opportunity to raise some awareness for Sea Shepherd, an international, non-profit marine conservation organisation that engages in direct action campaigns to defend wildlife, and conserve and protect the world’s oceans from illegal exploitation and environmental destruction.
The ocean environment is an intricately-balanced ecosystem designed to support and sustain marine wildlife and we all rely on it to regulate our climate and weather systems and to provide over half the planets oxygen.
This is the first Big Suffolk Beach Clean event organised by the Vegan Network but not the last. The plan is to make it even bigger next year and clean as much of the 50 miles of Suffolk coastline as possible!
Have a look at the article in the Ipswich Star here.
Thank you to all who took part!
Main photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash