On Easter Saturday, the 30th March 2018, we hosted our second official beach clean up on The Hayling Billy Trail! We encouraged support through our social media channels and by word of mouth throughout the local area. People came from local villages and towns, with a few people travelling over from Southampton to help. We set aside two hours to try to make a difference on the local coast line, racing against the rising tide before some of the areas became inaccessible. Our event had thirty six people booked up to join us, and we planned to tackle everything that we could see in the time we had set. This beach clean was supported by the fabulous Montezuma’s chocolate, which was an amazing way to thank and encourage the children that attended. Helping and taking care of our oceans is something worth rewarding and obviously highly encouraged by the Easter Bunny! We set up our Final Straw Solent beach flags, marking the location to the carpark for the volunteers. Litter-pickers, bin bags and gloves were set out and we were all set for the team to arrive.
Fifteen minutes before the start and the volunteers started to arrive. Then some more, and then more. In the end, a phenomenal 83 volunteers turned up, beating the 75 people that attended the last clean up. Fantastic people who all have an interest in saving our coast line and helping with our plastic crisis – and together we all set about to make a difference.
We gave a quick briefing, warning people of the dangers of being on the beach front and advised them to not touch anything sharp or dangerous. The rocks are slippery and to always keep your eye on the tide. Its low tide but you never turn your back on the ocean. Then we got started – and boy was there a lot to start on.
After an hour ITV Meridian arrived to film a segment to show the good work the team are doing and to show support for the campaign. After an hour and a half, and people with purple council bin bags spread to the left and the right, we called everyone in and started our pack up. We had a lot of thanks to say, to a lot of people. We could never have imagined how many full bags we had to arrange around one lone bin at the end of the trail. We began tying up all the bags and counted them in. 65. We had collected, between 83 fantastic people, many of whom were children, 65 bags of rubbish of all shapes and sizes off of the beach. We had crisp packets, straws, cotton buds, drinks bottles and hundreds of sweet wrappers and packaging. One dad and his son were rolling a tyre back down the beach towards the meeting point and another gentleman was carrying an old carpet. Yet, the main bulk of the work that all of our volunteers did was back breaking. Down on hands and knees and sifting through the seaweed and sand for micro-plastics. Actually you didn’t need to sift too hard. If you looked across the rocks and seaweed you could see reds, blues, greens and pinks all interrupting the natural beautiful colours that you should see on a beach. These micro-plastics are killing our wildlife and polluting our oceans. Bags were filled with these and it took so much determination from all of us to collect as much as we could. We didn’t get it all. We needed hours more but we did our best and that’s all we could ask for. On this particular beach clean up we collected over 100 plastic single-use water bottles. We have no idea how they got there. Were they washed up with the tide or do people just drop them when out walking? We will never know, yet what we do know is that this senseless use of these products needs to stop.
Finally, it was time for a photo op as people had to rush off for family easter commitments, and to thank all of the volunteers that gave up their precious time on this easter weekend. This wouldn’t have been possible without them. Look at some of their amazing faces.
We need to encourage people to start making wiser choices in our day-to- day lives and cut back the amount of single-use plastics we purchase. Together we can lower the 8 million tonnes of plastics thrown into the oceans each year (this is the equivalent to a full rubbish truck emptied in to the ocean every minute), and stop there being more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. It needs to be us, the general public, that makes the change. We can start making that change and together we can make a difference. Today has once again been proof of this. With the support of our local shops, who are providing us with products in less packaging, we can all do it. We are proving that shopping local has many benefits, to both the consumer and the environment.
Feeling on an enormous high from this beach clean up we are pushing on. The next litter pick is being arranged as I type, and we are going to plan the next three so people can get the dates in their diaries.
We are encouraging every business in our local area to cut down their plastic use, and we are not stopping at just plastic straws – that’s just the beginning. We are hoping to see entire towns along the Solent using minimal single-use plastic, and that we can then grow The Final Straw Solent to join up with the Final Straw Winchester and further. That’s the dream, because together we can. We just need your support. Yours in particular. We have Havant Borough Council and Portsmouth City Council’s support and together we can achieve great things. Another dream is to run simultaneous beach cleans along the Solent region, with volunteers helping to make an enormous difference to our coast lines.
Please search out The Final Straw Solent on all our social media channels and get behind us to support the cause. We need you. You don’t have to be from the Solent area, so come on over and have a look at our pages to see in what ways you can help. Can you help us start the next area of The Final Straw? Can you help us to educate the children of Hampshire on plastics and ensure they make the best choices for them and our planet? If so, then please get in touch. We would absolutely love to hear from you.