On the 12 of April during the Easter holidays, Planet PK undertook our first beach clean of 2023. This beach clean was part of the Surfers Against Sewage Million Mile clean, the biggest initiative of its kind in the UK, aiming to get 100,000 people to clear up 10 miles of outdoor space each year.
Our cleaning kit arrived courtesy of SAS, including reusable rubbish sacks and reusable strong gloves. On Wednesday morning we made it to the beach bright and early for a 9 am start, the forecast wasn’t looking great, and there were high winds, causing big waves and kicking the sand up into the air. Despite the bracing elements, volunteers still showed up to show their support and get stuck in – thank you!
The beach was hearteningly clean already, despite a busy first week of Easter. Although there wasn’t a lot of obvious litter, a closer look resulted in us finding lots and lots of microplastics, from fishing rope and bits of plastic dog toys to straws and zip ties. All of these bits of litter, although small, pose entanglement risks to animals, and can cause horrible health effects if ingested.
Another issue we came across during our beach clean was a large volume of poo bags, tied up but abandoned by the footpath or thrown into hedges. This is even worse than not picking up dog poo at all, as plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose, and in the meantime is unsightly and a health hazard. The car park in Porthcurno offers large bins just minutes from the footpath so dog waste can be disposed of appropriately.
Overall, this beach clean has left us feeling optimistic for the year. We are hoping that campaigns and social media outreach around Porthcurno and Cornwall as a whole are resulting in a behavioural shift where litter is taken home or disposed of correctly – time will tell!
Thank you to all who braved the weather and got stuck in!
Maeve Cushla – Young Curator – PK Porthcurno