Beach huts on Cromer Beach Randomir Rezny

Public asked to #KeepItClean at the beach

2 minute read

Victoria Riglen

18 Jun 2020

As the UK's leading marine charity, the Marine Conservation Society is calling on the UK public to Keep It Clean and Take It Home as huge swathes of litter pollute outdoor spaces across the country.

Beaches, parks and public spaces are suffering a scourge of litter and single-use plastic, from cups to gloves, takeaway food containers and face masks. It’s easy to think that litter on land has no role to play at sea, whereas in fact, 80% of ocean litter comes from land*. In a recent survey, 63% of those asked were very or extremely concerned about marine plastic pollution and 61% were very or extremely concerned about the health of our oceans. The concern for the health of our ocean must be echoed in our actions on land, whether on the beach, in a park or strolling down our local high street.

Beach litter in Cornwall Natasha Ewins

Credit: Natasha Ewins

Almost a third (30.4%) of all litter found across the UK’s beaches over the Great British Beach Clean was from the public, whether left on the beaches, blown in off the street or carried by waterways to the coast.  The top ten most prolific items included cigarette stubs (42.6 per 100m); crisp, sweet and sandwich packets (30.9 per 100m); caps and lids (20.4 per 100m); alongside plastic or polystyrene pieces (143 per 100m). ‘On-the-go’ convenience packaging is among the most common types of litter, and one which could be easily avoided.

PPE mask litter on coast path in Cornwall Natasha Ewins

Credit: Natasha Ewins

Dr Laura Foster, Head of Clean Seas said: “Surveys have consistently shown that the UK public care about the fate of our ocean, are concerned about plastic pollution and want to see the health of the environment at the heart of the recovery strategy from the coronavirus pandemic. So many of us realised how much being outdoors helped our physical and mental well-being during lockdown, and while most people are being responsible we need to ensure the few don’t spoil it for the many. The increase of litter across the country shows standards are slipping. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to clean up after ourselves.”

Lizzie Prior, Beachwatch Officer said: “There’s no doubt that the pictures of litter on beaches across the UK from this past few weeks are the worst I have ever seen, yet the awareness of marine pollution is the highest I have ever known. We know the impact litter, particularly plastic, has on our marine environment so please remember, wherever you go, take your litter home”

Join the conversation on social media and ensure everyone knows to #KeepItClean when spending time outdoors. 

The Clean Seas programme has been a leader in reducing marine pollution for over decade

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