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Beach litter is one of the biggest threats to wildlife, especially seabirds. Almost a year ago, 1.1 billion single-use plates and 4.25 billion items of single-use cutlery were found all around the UK. These huge numbers mean only one thing — the threat against living organisms is mounting day by day.
This is when the UK government introduced a ban on all single-use plastic. In this blog, let’s look at how effective this ban is and how it’s impacting our environment.
Plastic bags and bottles can choke birds, while fishing lines and nets can trap them and kill them by cutting into their flesh if they get tangled. Toxic chemicals build up in marine creatures’ bodies, and fish and birds are often eaten by larger animals such as turtles, dolphins, or seabirds.
It’s not just animals that suffer from plastic pollution – it poses a huge threat to our own health too. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, which means it can stay in the environment for hundreds of years, breaking down into smaller parts called microplastics. These tiny fragments are then eaten by animals and enter the food chain and ultimately could reach us when we eat them in fish and shellfish.
With so many hazardous plastics around us and beach litter harming living organisms, the plastic ban in the UK came as a welcome sign. All single-use plastics polystyrene cups and other similar items were banned in the UK just a few months ago. This has propelled many companies to cut down on single-use plastic materials and look for better sustainable alternatives.
This single move has brought a massive transformation in beach litter. For the first time in 20 years, beach litter has reached its lowest-ever rate in the UK.
In 2019, the average litter recorded per 100 meters was 558 and in 2020, it was 425. In 2021, the number reached a record low of 385 for the first time in 20 years. The amount of single-use plastic has also dropped from 13 in 2013 to just 3 in 2021.
Among the total plastic collected on the beaches, around 33% came from the public, 11% from fishing, 6% from sewage and debris, and 3% from shipping-related litter. Almost three-fourths of the collected litter from the UK beaches was plastic or polystyrene.
We’ve all seen the results of this — water bottles, food wrappers, cigarette butts, and other debris that washes up on our beloved beaches. It’s heartbreaking to see trash strewn across the sand after a lovely day at the beach. And it’s even worse because we know that our trash will remain on the beach long after we’ve gone home.
The good news is that most beach litter is preventable. A little attention to the environment can help us enjoy our favorite beaches without feeling guilty about leaving so much behind. Here are some tips for reducing your beach litter:
In general, the best way to reduce beach litter is to not bring it there in the first place. If you’re going to the beach and plan to have a picnic, don’t bring paper plates, napkins, cups or plastic silverware. Instead, choose good old-fashioned alternative recyclable products. If you must use disposable products, be sure to pack them out with you when you leave the beach.
If you’re going to build a bonfire on the beach, take your trash with you when you leave. Many beaches prohibit bonfires for environmental reasons, so check before lighting one up.
If there are trash receptacles near your swim area or other areas where people frequent, make sure they’re emptied frequently and kept clean. Choose recyclable items for concession stands at sporting events on the beach.
Volunteer to clean up your local beaches regularly as part of an organized cleanup day with your friends or community group. This usually involves picking up small pieces of debris and stuffing them into bags. You’ll feel better about spending time at the beach if you know you’ve helped keep it clean!
Trying to reduce your use of plastic is a great way to do your bit for the planet. You can even help raise awareness by asking people not to use any unnecessary plastic.
At Plastic Collectors, we have been fighting the battle against plastic through various measures that curb and remove plastic from our planet. If you want to volunteer for the cause, you can reach out to our team today.