On Sunday 19th November, 34 people (and a few dogs) came to Rest Bay in Porthcawl, South Wales, to help me undertake a beach clean.
The idea behind the beach clean was to raise awareness of marine pollution, to support the work of the charity Keep Wales Tidy, and of course to collect waste from the coastline.
The beach clean was the first event organised as part of my ULTIMATE Wales project; in which I aim to encourage people to get outside and adventure safely and confidently in Wales, to promote the physical and mental health benefits of being outdoors, and to raise the awareness of environmental issues. The project will culminate with an expedition in summer 2018; which will see me paddle boarding, cycling and hiking across Wales, to raise money for 3 fantastic charities who echo the aims of the project. To find out more about ULTIMATE Wales click here.
Note: This picture wasn’t staged – I actually stand like that, use stupid hand gestures when I talk, and Louie the dog was definitely that engrossed in what I was saying!
On Sunday morning with the Welsh weather on our side, myself and Brian (the area project officer for Keep Wales Tidy), set up our meeting point in the car park at Rest Bay. At 10am everyone started to arrive; maps were handed out showing the designated waste bag drop points, and the health and safety bit was done. Brian kitted everyone out with bags, bag holders, gloves, and litter pickers. Even the kids had kid sized litter pickers – bionic grabber arms for everyone!
Paul Forsyth, a local photographer, kindly volunteered to come along and capture shots of the action. We had people posing with custom made props (made by my own fair hand), which were rated as top quality by all volunteers (or I could have made that bit up!)
Rest Bay itself is one of Wales’ blue flag beaches, and with a #2minuteBeachClean station placed next to the lifeguard station, people do a good job of clearing waste. However, further along the coastal path toward Pink Bay and Sker Beach, it’s a different story. So, that’s exactly where our army of waste warriors headed.
Over the course of the morning, the volunteers collected 34 bags of waste, a fridge, a wheel, ropes, nets, barrels, and almost a few Portuguese Man O War! Some weird and wonderful items were recovered from between the rocks; including a bottle of vaping fluid which had made its’ way over from Ireland, more flip flops than you could shake a toe at, small plastic toys, and way too many plastic tampon applicators.
We couldn’t have asked for a more enthusiastic bunch of volunteers. It was great to see children getting involved, local councillors, dogs, couples, and individuals. Even those with a hangover from the night before managed to attend after a breakfast stop on the way! We all got some fresh air, moved, socialised, met new people, connected with the outdoors, made a difference, thought about the issues associated with marine waste… I could go on.
It was clear to us all on Sunday that plastic is a real issue – and coincidentally this was highlighted by David Attenborough on Sunday evening’s episode of Blue Planet. It is astonishing how many plastic bottles, straws, lids, and packets we collected. But this isn’t surprising when you consider that 8 million tons end up in our oceans every year!
To keep up to date with what events are taking place as part of my ULTIMATE Wales project, you can subscribe to receive email updates by clicking here.
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