Up to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic make its way into our ocean every year. Plastic is used in many day-to-day products including: packaging, textiles, and building and construction.
Unfortunately, around 1.2 million tonnes of plastic packaging are consumed within UK households every year but only approximately 45% are then recycled. It can be very hard to avoid throw-away plastic, however there are many minor changes we can all make to lower the levels of plastic entering our seas.
Some of these changes that can be made:
- Lowering levels of plastic bottles or takeaway containers bought by using a reusable bottle or mug
- Trying to use reusable bags when shopping
- Lower use of plastic straws
- Consuming beauty products that do not contain micro-beads
If plastic use is unavoidable, why not try to recycle by using green bins and recycling banks.
If you have ever wondered how much plastic you use in a year, follow this link to find out your plastic footprint with Greenpeace: https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/page/content/plastics-calculator-v1?source=fp&subsource=fp33secsplasticscalc3&utm_source=gpeace&utm_medium=fp&utm_campaign=fp33secsplasticscalc3
Here are the numbers we got:
It’s easy to overlook the amount of plastic you consume, but when calculated together it can often be an overwhelming amount! Why not try to keep a tally of the items you use to try and bring down your score, we certainly will be!
The Clean Seas Please team visited Hastings Beach recently to give out some personalised Clean Seas Please poo bags to the owners of our furry friends.
Did you know that government statistics show the UK dog population is between 6.5 and 7.4 million and that they astonishingly produce 1,000 tonnes of faeces every day! Like any untreated faeces they can increase the bacterial content of the water and so if we don’t pick them up from the pavements and fields these can end up being washed down the drains and end up in our sea.
Mans best friend needs a helping paw to clean up after themselves. We know they all do it, so why not check before you leave home that you have a bag – we do. Also have you noticed that many bins now take dog waste as well as litter? Clearing up will help us all to keep our beaches and water clean.
Take a look at some of the dogs we met below!
Without stating the obvious, cigarettes contain many toxins, with the smoke alone releasing over 4,000 chemicals and 400 other toxins but have you ever wondered what is left in the filter, or as we know them the “butts” of cigarettes?
Cigarette filters are made from a material that traps the toxin causing chemicals, to try and prevent theses reaching the smokers lungs…… so now imagine what happens when you throw the cigarette butt away.
Dropping a cigarette butt on the ground, including the beach, can lead to an £80 fine. Did you know that an estimated that over 1.69 billion pounds of butts wind up as toxic waste each year with many sources proving cigarette butts are the most prolific form of litter in the world.
The toxic waste in the cigarette butts also have a negative effect on the surrounding environment, taking 20-25 years to decompose. Whilst they are laying around they are often eaten by birds or marine life with the result that the toxins cause harm to them and us when they enter the food chain.
So; what can we all do to help?
Why not set an example – could you stub and dispose of your cigarette butt end so that it isn’t on the ground?
Why not help clean up – join a local beach clean. Pick sticks and thick gloves are supplied so you don’t need to touch any waste found. Have some fun, help the environment and possibly make more friends!
Check out our website …. And social media ….. for details of events.
Whilst we are working together to help our bathing water quality in Hastings by thinking about how we disposed of Fats, Oils and Grease, only putting the three P’s (pee, poo and paper) in the toilet, how our waste water pipes are connected and how we disposed of rubbish, there are worldwide initiatives as well.
One of these projects is called The Seabin, an invention spurred by two Australian surfers called Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski to clean polluted waters. The invention itself is a bin that goes underwater and collects plastic from the sea and it was reported by NewsScientist.com in July 2016 to be:
“In final stages of research, and should be available in 17 countries early next year”
There has yet to be any updates this year as to whether the Seabin is an invention that will be environmentally friendly and used on a global scale, however Clean Seas Please will be keeping an eye out for any updates so that we can keep you all informed as it will be interesting to see if this would be a great way to prevent the waste in our seas and oceans.
The research was conducted by fitting bins to pontoons and submerging them into the Balearic Seas in Spain where a pump is used to vacuum waste from the surface of the sea. The bins are then emptied when they are full and the waste is then recycled.
NewsScientist.com also reported:
“Marine authorities around the world have expressed an interest, and the team has signed agreements to make the bins available in 17 countries from the beginning of 2017.”
To watch the short film of The Seabin in progress and for more information, check out the following link: https://youtu.be/tiy7WQYQyhY
Why not check out our other blog posts on this page around the effects of plastic and microbeads or come along and help at a beach clean?
It’s a simple fact that when it comes to plastic in our seas – it’s not so fantastic!
On most beach cleans that the Clean Seas Please team have attended, types of plastic such as lollipop sticks and drink bottles are among the most common items found, either washed up on the beach or left instead of being taken home or put in rubbish bins.
Many products have plastic packaging and they are often taken as necessities to the beach, such as crisp packets, plastic bags containing sandwiches, wrapping on pies and plastic drinks bottles. Most of these plastics are non-biodegradable, meaning they will not break down for years.
To sea life, plastic can be life threatening, especially if eaten or if it becomes wrapped around the body, legs or mouth of wildlife. For example: plastic bags can look like jellyfish and smaller pieces of plastic can be mistaken for food items. Discarded fishing line, or plastic used to keep tins, such as lager, together can enter the sea and cause great harm.
Plastic can also get to the sea through the rain water sewer system, either by items being flushed down toilets that are not correctly connected, or by being washed down the road and into the gutters, which results in it being washed up on the shore.
We can all help by taking our rubbish home from the beach, or putting it in local rubbish bins or joining in with a beach clean.
Do you know what a misconnection is?
We didn’t until we were asked to help others know what they are, the impacts on bathing water quality and what to look for.
A misconnection is when the waste water pipes to sinks, or toilets, are not connected (misconnection) to the sewer pipes that go directly to the waste water (sewage) treatment works. When this happens, any waste going down the pipes goes into the rain water system and directly out to sea – which means that it does not get treated.
Often, we are not aware of the problem until our drain or toilet becomes blocked or we have building work to our property and the misconnection is found. If you are not sure about the plumbing in your property, we would advise that you ask plumber to check this for you.
Over the next couple of months, the Clean Seas Please Team are hoping to talk to various people, including plumbers and plumbing students, to see how many misconnections they are aware of and the affects that this can have on the quality of bathing water in Hastings and Bexhill.
Why not have a go at our missed connections game? http://cleanseasplease.net/play-missed-connections/
Did you know?
Toothpaste, facial scrub, bubble bath, shaving foam and household cleaners are all examples of some of the products that contain microbeads, one of the highest contributors to plastic that is polluting our seas.
What are Microbeads and why is everyone talking about them?
Microbeads are very small pieces of plastic, some visible to the human eye and some not, that are added to many everyday toiletries and household products. These pieces of plastic find their way down our drains when we use them and into our seas, passing through filtration devices because of their minuteness.
There are over 680 tonnes of microbeads used in the UK alone every year. It is believed that some fish are mistaking the microbeads for food and when eaten they can cause many problems including stunted growth as they are not digestible. This means that they can also end up in our food chain, however there is no evidence to suggest that they pose harm to humans.
What is being done about the microbeads?
Following a petition that saw more than 370,000 signatures, the tiny pieces of plastic are now set to be banned from being used in the sale of goods within the UK by the end of 2017. This means that brands that currently make products with microbeads in them will need to find a harmless alternative, of which there are many biodegradable options including: nut shells and salt.
What can we do to help before the ban takes place?
We can look to find products that do not contain microbeads an example of ingredients to avoid are: Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA), Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and nylon.
Why not take a look at the following link for a list of products sold within the UK that are not made with plastic, you’ll be surprised what you’ll find on there!
The Good Scrub Guide
Beatthemicrobead.org also offer a smartphone app that allows you to scan products on the go to see if it is made with microbeads, very helpful
On Saturday 17th December we were happy to help Bexhill Environmental Group cleaning the beach at West Parade, opposite Richmond road.
The sun was shining to welcome all those attending and together we collected enough rubbish from the beach to roughly fill 15 bags! The litter ranged from bottle caps to a pair of glasses and all items found were bagged up by the group to be disposed of correctly.
Our team found it interesting to see how much fishing rope was found caught in the seaweed; it makes you wonder how much is still in the sea and is yet to reach our shores.
We would personally like to thank all those helping with the beach clean and to Bexhill Environmental Group, for organising and providing all equipment and who were more then happy to allow us to come along and join in.
The beach clean ups that are organised, once a month during the winter, are always very successful, with regular trips picking up over 10 bags of rubbish. However, it would be helpful if we all picked up our rubbish after ourselves and used the bins provided along the beach or, better still, take it home to be recycled. This way we can do our bit to keep our beaches and sea clean.
We hope that celebrating Christmas will bring you the joy of gifts and the pleasure of visiting friends and family along the sea front. If you are taking a walk along the seafront this winter it would be helpful to put litter from candy wrappers or presents in the bins along the seafront or even to take it home for the recycling bin. Having an extra bag in your pocket to pick up behind your dog if you are walking together is also a great way to help our seas.
The aftermath of Christmas could lead to extra pollution in our seas even with discarded costumes and accessories being left on the beach. If you carry an extra bag with you it would be the perfect place to put any litter. We ask that you not only have a great time celebrating this Christmas, but also to help keep seas clean this holiday.