Big Spring Beach Clean Success
17,000 People Join The Quest For Plastic Free Coastlines
This spring Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) & Ecover called for community beach clean volunteers nationwide to join their Big Spring Beach Clean. The response they received blew them away!
This April Surfers Against Sewage & Ecover made beach clean history! When almost 17,000 people joined them at over 470 beaches and river banks across the UK to remove a massive 55 TONNES of ocean plastic pollution and recycle 17,000* single-use plastic bottles as part of Ecover’s pioneering Ocean Plastic Bottle Project, the Big Spring Beach Clean became the largest and most impactful volunteer beach cleaning project in the UK.
Image Ian Lean
Over 12 million tonnes of plastic pollution flows, almost unchecked, into our oceans each year (1). This flood of ‘single-use’ ‘throwaway’ items has become so overwhelming that it can often be difficult to imagine a solution. However by simply grabbing a pair of gloves and heading down to their nearest Big Spring Beach Cleans, SAS’s incredible volunteer army, 17,000 strong, has shown that by uniting to take simple, positive steps we can set a powerful example and begin to move towards plastic free coastlines together.
SAS’s Head of Community & Engagement, Dom Ferris says; “One of the most powerful tools in our fight to create plastic free coastlines is optimism and whilst the ‘Big Spring Beach Clean ‘stats’ highlight the horrific scale of the ocean plastic pollution crisis they also tell a wonderful tale of community activism and fun which brings great hope at a vital time”.
Top 10 Big Spring Beach Clean 2017 ‘Stats’
- 475 – SAS Big Spring Beach Cleans took place across all regions of the UK
- 16,944 – SAS Big Spring Beach Clean volunteers
- 55,541kg - Of marine litter removed from the UK’s coastline
- 74,000 hours - Donated by SAS Big Spring Beach Clean volunteers
- 17,000+ – Single-use plastic bottles removed and recycled with Ecover
- Weird, Old and Wonderful – A broken open safe, terrapin shell, two 7.62 rifle bullets and a cider can from the 1960’s to name just a few of the surprising items found
- Longest Litter Journey - A Cornwall Council recycling bin found washed up on The Isle of Skye!
- Government Representation – From DEFRA Environment Minister Dr Therese Coffey to Tynemouth’s Young Persons Mayor, Oscar Daniels more than 10 MPs, MSPs, Mayors and local councillors volunteered
- Dawn ‘Till Dusk Big Spring Beach Clean 6am – 6pm cleaning 5 beaches around Bude with The Plastic Movement engaging 200 people and removing 835kg!
- 91 Years YOUNG – Oldest Big Spring Beach Clean Volunteer (Freshwater West, Wales)
Once again the single-use plastic drinks bottle was amongst the most commonly found items of plastic pollution during the Big Spring Beach Clean. The ‘poster child’ for our ‘throwaway’ society the plastic bottle perfectly demonstrates the need to both refuse single-use plastic and to ensure that we trap the plastic that we have to use in a circular economy, preventing it ever escaping into our environment. Whilst they remain committed to tackling plastic pollution on their beaches for as long as it takes, each and every SAS beach clean volunteer longs for a day when beach clean are nothing but a fond memory and we truly have plastic free coastlines.
“…My hope for the future? Is going down to a beach clean and realising there’s nothing to do, no plastic, nothing and all there is to do is sit and look at the sea. You go there and that beach is pristine. That’s the little dream, the end goal. And there’s lots of ways we can do it”. Steve Crawford, SAS Rep for Scarborough and veteran of 30 years of SAS beach cleans!
It is for these reasons that SAS was so excited at the prospect of partnering with Ecover to ‘capture’ and ‘divert’ all suitable*** PET plastic bottles to be included in their pioneering Ocean Plastic Bottle Project. Each and every Big Spring Beach Clean volunteer took great heart from the knowledge that the bottles that they collected would be re-used by SAS and Ecover to both create a sustainable, circular economy product and raise awareness about using plastic conscientiously through this inspiring ‘shore to store’ story.
Tom Domen, Head of Innovation at Ecover, says; "We're amazed with the response from the Big Spring Beach Clean. We'd like to say a massive thank you to all the volunteers who came down and cleared a whopping 55,541 kg of plastic pollution from the UK's coast line. We will be taking the 17,659 plastic bottles collected and recycling them into Ecover Ocean Plastic Washing Up Liquid bottles that will be available next year. This is a fantastic start to our 3 year partnership with Surfers Against Sewage that aims to help clean up beaches in the UK and draw attention to the impact that plastic waste is having on our marine life. The huge numbers of plastic bottles collected in one week shows just how urgent this issue is and how we all need to rethink how we use and dispose of plastic."
The vision of Plastic Free Coastlines is within reach if we take action together. Small steps lead to great journeys, so if you’ve been inspired by the story of SAS’s Big Spring Clean why not get involved today by doing your own #MiniBeachClean and letting the SAS Beach Clean Team know at firstname.lastname@example.org and sharing @surfersagainstsewage!?
Keep an eye on Sharkbait and the SAS website for the next beach cleans nearest to you.