Throughout our Escentual: Community Focus series, we’ll be shining a light on the people behind Escentual, what we get up to here and the things we’re passionate about. To kickstart the series, we’re giving you a sneak peek into the Communications & Campaigns Team’s recent Community Day….
Comms Team Beach Clean
On Monday 31 January, the Communications Team visited two local beaches for Escentual’s first-ever Community Day. Although the pandemic put a hold on our Community Day for a while, we were excited to finally be able to get outdoors to make a positive impact on our community and the environment around us.
Why Do A Beach Clean?
We’re fortunate to have a number of stunning beaches on our doorstep here in Wales, so it seemed like a natural choice as we want to keep them as natural, healthy and tidy as possible. So what better place for our beach clean than Jackon’s Bay and Barry Island, two popular beaches near to where we live and work?
“Nature has been a real saviour during the pandemic. So together, we chose to make a difference to the animals, community and visitors of our local beaches. We wanted to do something that would encourage our community to go out and enjoy the fresh sea air. If just one sea creature doesn’t get cut by a drinks holder, or one child doesn’t pick up a dead cigarette for the day, we know we’ve done our job.” – Chelsey, on behalf of the Communications and Campaigns Team.
Our Surfers Against Sewage Beach Clean
We signed up for our free beach cleaning kit, which included everything we needed to safely collect litter – rubbish bags, hard-wearing gloves, you name it – from a charity called Surfers Against Sewage. We’ll admit that none of us are surfers, but thankfully, we don’t have to be; anyone can support their work through beach cleans, lifestyle pledges and donations.
So what did our day look like? To start with, we headed over to Jackson’s Bay for the first leg of our beach clean. Most of the litter that we came across here was either well embedded into the landscape (including a plastic basket stuck beneath a massive boulder) or high up in the trees alongside the coastal path. Our biggest find at this point was a large piece of cardboard about the size of a computer screen.
After trudging our way through some pretty sludgy mud (and a few regrets from those wearing white trainers!) we walked to Barry Island via the coastal path. Litter picking along the way, we were stopped by a man who told us about the beaches that he collects litter from – a true eco-warrior.
Although Barry Island tended to have smaller pieces of litter, there was definitely more of it.
What Did We Find?
• 50 cigarette butts
• 25 poo bags
• Sweet wrappers
• A tyre
• Plastic bags
• Shopping crates
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What Did We Learn?
“Actively looking for rubbish rather than staring at the beautiful views of the beach has given me a completely different perspective on waste. I was sad to see unspoiled areas littered with safety hazards and unnecessary plastic. The activity has made me be more conscious of my surroundings – even when I’m walking down my street, I now pick up litter instead of walking past it.’’ – Chelsey.
“The beach clean made a fantastic start to my week. It was great to get outside; plus, it felt great giving back! I was mortified by the types of litter we found, and it shocked me that people could be so careless and rude. Monday’s are usually a hard slog for many, but this was one of the best Monday’s I’ve had in a while. It felt good to be doing good!’’ – Ceryn.
“It was really sad to see the amount of rubbish on the beach, especially as some pieces have been there for so long that they’ve become a part of the landscape. But although it can be easy to be disheartened by the situation, the fact that a few people stopped to say well done to us and also explained the places that they collect litter fills you with hope for the future. The day has definitely made me more conscious of litter around my home, too, and I’m more committed to collecting litter when walking.’’ – Kate.
“The team beach clean was a bittersweet experience for me; I was so disappointed to see the amount of careless littering in an area of natural beauty, but also it was a fantastic team-building experience where we were able to work together to give back to the community. We were happy to swap our usual Monday blues for a skyline of blue ocean, and although it was tiring, it felt exceptionally rewarding.’’ – Keavy.
“Growing up by the ocean, marine wildlife and the conservation of our natural landscape has always been important to me. So, I was super excited to get to spend the day by the ocean and be part of our team beach clean. It was devastating to see plastic waste, which had evidently been there for years, becoming permanent within the landscape, embedding itself within the rock and sand. I’d recommend a litter clean to anyone! It’s a great way to get outdoors and give something back to your community.’’ – Darcey.
“The beach clean was an unusual mix for me – on the one hand, it was so much fun to get outdoors with the team and visit such a beautiful beach when it (amazingly for Wales) wasn’t raining! On the other hand, seeing all the rubbish was horrible, especially seeing so much along the walkways a few minutes away from a rubbish bin – why do people do that? There was also some obvious cases of fly tipping with large items that looked so wrong.’’ – Hannah.
Why Beach Cleans Are So Important
There’s no doubt about it; humanity has a serious addiction to plastic, and when it’s not recycled or properly disposed of, it has a serious knock on effect. Although littering of any material is a major issue, one of the largest threats to marine life is the overproduction of single-use plastics as it subsequently makes its way into our oceans. Marine life often mistakes plastic for food or gets tangled up in rubbish, while plastic also carries toxic chemicals that damage vulnerable wildlife and their unique natural habitats. Another huge concern is microplastics, which are now making their way into the food chain as marine wildlife ingest them unknowingly.
The facts speak for themselves…
• 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year; that’s equivalent to the weight of the entire human population.
• Less than a third of all plastic in the UK is recycled.
• 73% of beach litter worldwide is plastic.
• It’s expected that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
• 100,000 marine mammals and turtles are killed by plastic pollution every year.
If you liked the sound of our beach clean, why not organise one with your colleagues, friends or family, or join an organised community beach clean? There are plenty of places that offer beach cleaning equipment to ensure you complete your clean safely and effectively, including Surfers Against Sewage, where we signed up for our free kit.
But that’s not to say that you have to limit yourself to beaches; we can all make small changes by taking steps to reduce our climate footprint, reuse and recycle waste where we can, and look after our local spaces – be it the beach, the countryside or the city.