WWF and MCS join forces for Brighton beach clean

By: Erin O'Neill
Date posted: 10 October 2018

Erin O’Neill, Editor at the Marine Conservation Society, took part in a recent beach clean held between MCS and environmental charity WWF UK in Brighton. One of the biggest beach cleans ever!

Recently, the Marine Conservation Society came together with environmental charity WWF UK for a massive beach clean in sunny Brighton. I was one of over 200 people who helped to clean up Brighton beach as part of WWF’s all-staff away day.

All in all, 229 volunteers cleaned 500 metres of beach, removing 5,257 pieces of litter!

MCS WWF

Although Brighton Brighton & Hove City Council send their own beach cleaners onto the pebbles throughout the year, unsurprisingly, there was still plenty of seafront rubbish to be found. At first glance the beach appeared relatively litter-free, but closer inspection revealed a treasure trove of waste, with a massive 25kg of litter cleaned up and recorded. All in just one hour of beach cleaning! If that much litter can be gathered on a regularly cleaned beach, it makes you wonder just how bad the rest must be…

There were some shocking finds to say the least, including countless cigarette butts and a collection of rusty nails near the seashore. Amongst the litter items there was plenty of plastic, including straws and stirrers, food wrappers, bottle caps, cups and takeaway containers. This comes as no surprise, as I’m sure by now most people are aware of the plastic problem, highlighted in recent documentaries like Drowning in Plastic and Blue Planet II.

During the day WWF staff learnt all about the amount of time that it takes certain litter items to break down in the marine environment. Many were shocked to hear that plastic never disappears completely, it simply becomes smaller and smaller until it isn’t visible to the human eye. These so-called microplastics are a big worry in particular, entering the sea through the gradual disintegration of bigger plastic items, and ultimately the food-chain when eaten by fish and shellfish that go on to be eaten by us.

It was lovely to work collaboratively with WWF on such an important issue, and what better time than in our 25th year of cleaning beaches?

If you want to get involved, search our Beachwatch website and find a beach clean near you.