It does feel like cleaning up after other people. Despite feeling as though I were impersonating ancient Sisyphus as he was pushing the heavy boulder up the hill, only to watch it roll down and having to resume his toils all over again, I believe there were two benefits which potentially sprung from it:
Firstly, trying to keep oystercatchers, seagulls and other birds from pecking on it and eating it.
Secondly, I also felt I could not stand going for a walk while wading through what seems to me approaching the ambience of a landfill site. The sad thing is: this is just the tip of the iceberg.
This is just as much as I could manage to pick up from the beach in front of our house. Most of what you see in the photo had been washed up after hurricane Ophelia and the latest couple of squalls hitting our shores in December/January.
I found bits of plastic rope, plastic bottles and masses and masses of lids, these small screw-on tops we commonly use on plastic bottles, as well as lighters and yoghurt tubs. I used a big, black bag to collect it and luckily I met some folk who were out for a walk to help me carry the bag down to the road. I hadn’t told my husband about this project, it had been more of a spontaneous decision and he was out working. I only stopped when I felt I couldn’t bend down anymore at 8 months pregnant. But it was a good exercise as well.
Without wanting to join in the blame game, we still need to ask for and assign responsibilities in order to find a solution to this terrible mess. It is not enough if a few people with a conscience pull themselves together and pick up the litter. It won’t solve the problem. We need to consider the following: once you have done it and put it in a bin, where is it going after that? Is it going to be recycled properly? What happens? Is it only going to be ending up in the ocean once again? That is a cycle in itself but not actually the type we’re looking for.
Despite all that, I’m thinking about the following relevant points:
- Advertising a beach clean event at the local community centre. Everybody can join in, kids as well and especially them. It is vital to involve everyone starting with the young generation who will hopefully do a better job than we did. Plan a picnic afterwards (no disposable plastic bottles or containers allowed!).
- Contacting the local community ranger to make these events well-attended and more “official” while appointing people all along the coastline to be in charge of regular events to keep the beaches clean. Everyone would be responsible for one particular stretch of beach.
- Contacting the local recycling centre and inquiring after their policies and what types of plastics they are actually recycling, i. e. PET, HDPE, PVC etc.
- Writing to the companies who seem to think that several layers of plastic are necessary to be wrapped around their products. I only very recently complained to Boots about this. Or sign/launch petitions, thereby giving your support to the cause.
- Feeling militant, I’m about to try this one out: leaving excess packaging at Tesco. I’ll speak to the staff/manager first. I’ll keep you posted.