Leading marine wildlife charity, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) is celebrating the New Year by launching an online initiative to increase Urban Beach Cleans – local area litter picks that reduce the huge amount of plastic that makes its way from our urban areas to the coastline, and then into the ocean.
Up to 95% of the litter in the oceans actually comes from our cities, making its way to the sea through rivers, drains and waterways. Once it reaches the sea, it doesn’t disappear but breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic that are easily eaten by fish and other marine species, including whales and dolphins.
The new initiative is part of WDC’s existing ‘Plastic is #NotWhaleFood’ project supported by TV presenter, Julia Bradbury and BBC Springwatch’s Michaela Strachan. #NotWhaleFood, raises awareness of the dangers of plastic waste to marine life, along with practical actions to inspire people to make positive changes.
Local people interested in getting involved can now go online at notwhalefood.com/urban-beach-clean to source information and advice on running their own cleans with friends, neighbours or colleagues, or at school or university. WDC provides a free starter pack containing a guide, collection bags, gloves, and even a free tote bag and #NotWhaleFood T-shirt for the first 25 people to sign up.
The development of the Urban Beach Clean website is supported by Clarity Environmental, a UK organisation providing ethical and sustainable solutions that help businesses comply with environmental regulations.
It features an interactive map, allowing people to register existing events and find upcoming litter picks in the local community. After the event, urban beach cleaners can also submit their photos to an online gallery inspiring others to keep our beaches and countryside free of waste.
“Having carried out Urban Beach Cleans with some of our partners and corporate supporters over the last few months in locations including Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford and Brentford, we’ve been staggered at just how much plastic waste there is littering the streets, parks and waterways in our local communities,” says WDC’s partnerships manager, Abbie Cheesman.
“New Year is traditionally a time where many people make positive resolutions for the year ahead and we’re calling on people to make tackling plastic pollution in the local area their resolution for 2019. It doesn’t matter whether it’s just you and your dog, or a whole office, group or class – every single piece of plastic you remove from your local area is one that won’t end up in the ocean. Remember, plastic waste can contribute to the death of a whale or dolphin or, if you eat fish, may even make its way on to your plate one day”.
“We are so delighted that Clarity Environmental has chosen to support our Urban Beach Cleans. Their generosity has meant that people up and down the country will soon be receiving free litter picking equipment and support organising their own Urban Beach Cleans, which has a positive impact for marine wildlife”.
Michaela Strachan WDC patron, said: “The amount of plastic making its ways into our seas and oceans is terrifying and has severe consequences for marine life now and in the future. It’s heartbreaking to see pictures of whales and dolphins washing up on shores around the world because of the amount of plastic they have ingested – yet this is a totally avoidable problem.”
David Honcoop, managing director at Clarity Environmental, said:
“Having worked within the packaging industry since the start of our business, it means a lot to be supporting WDC with a campaign that is aimed at protecting our oceans and marine life from the impacts of plastic pollution.
Whether living by the coast or inland, it is vital that we all take responsibility for where our discarded litter ends up when we are finished with it. Plastic pollution is a complex issue and one that can only be tackled with wide-scale involvement from industry, decision makers and the public. By working together we can be part of the solution, and Urban Beach Cleans are one way we can all make a difference.”