Last month, Planet PK took part in Surfers Against Sewage Million Mile May, where we cleaned 10 miles of coastline and streets to battle the rise of pollution and waste in our local area. Most of the cleaning took place in and around Porthcurno Valley. As it was right before the bank holiday weekend, the valley was relatively quiet with not a lot of obvious litter. However, when I took a closer look around in the hedgerows and pillboxes across the cliffs, I found hidden litter everywhere.
A lot of the litter seemed to be left over from beach parties and gatherings, with drinks cans and bottles being the main offenders. This is particularly alarming as drinks cans can take anywhere from 80-200 years to decompose! During this time, they pose a threat to wildlife who may get trapped inside them or injured on the jagged metal. On top of this, glass drink bottles could take up to 1,000,000 years to decompose. Although perhaps more natural and not as hazardous to wildlife as a tin can, shards of glass are dangerous to humans and animals and are unsightly on the coastline.
I finished up the last couple of miles of the Million mile Clean on Falmouth University Penryn Campus, here I found a few bits of litter, mostly crisp packets and drink bottles that may have been blown about and tiny but extremely environmentally harmful cigarette butts.
Just after the Million Mile Clean was over and the half-term hit, we found discouraging and disappointing scenes in Porthcurno. A mountain of litter was piled up by the bins and around the car parks after a particularly beautiful and hot day. We found smouldering BBQs, nappies, tents, bottles and food waste, with people constantly throwing more handfuls of litter on top.
With the rain the next day and foraging animals, this litter started to spread into the surrounding wild areas like hedges and the stream, posing a large risk to the ecosystem. Luckily, a small team of three locals banded together to clean up the rubbish despite it not being their responsibility! Buying gloves and bags they cleared up all the bank holiday litter, leaving the car park spotless and containing all the litter from causing further harm to the environment. The council then came and collected all the bags of litter to be disposed of correctly.
When the bins are full in Porthcurno, or anywhere in Cornwall, it’s really important to take your litter home with you, as if it’s left piled up beside the bins, it still is damaging to the environment.
Header Photo: Maeve Cushla