in which we revisit a previously-cleaned beach and undertake a not-quite official clean

Last Saturday and Sunday marked the annual global beach clean in which thousands of people go and clean beaches in countries all over the world. We decided to do our bit with an not-quite-official clean along the beautiful Roseland coast here in Cornwall. In other words, we did not fill out a health and safety risk assessment form before setting out. Three of us, me, Jan and Sonia went back to a beach located about a mile south of Portscatho that Jan and I had cleaned in July to check up on how it was doing.

Last July the beach looked like this when we arrived:

I concentrated on this section:

And all the stuff you can’t see in either picture – the stuff you only find when you get down on your hands and knees at the back of the beach:


We didn’t clean the whole section of beach that day. When we left, carrying four shopping bags of rubbish each, the section I had cleaned looked like this:

But there was still quite a bit of rubbish left behind:

Here’s what we found two months later:

The beach is very clean, and the twiggy organic material has been replaced by seaweed, so my guess is that high tides have taken all the rubbish “away’ – i.e, it’s all back in the sea – and brought in seaweed. So I have mixed feelings about the apparently pristine current state of this section of beach.

On to the next section: a lovely and secluded bay that is hidden from the coastal path, and offers superb swimming opportunities. Of which some of us, (me) took advantage before eating our packed lunches and getting down to work. From here we took away nine shopping bags of rubbish and a large camping-size water container.

As usual, I got stuck sweating the REALLY small stuff:

And Jan made use of a piece of rope too heavy to take away with us, to make a marker, a kind of “we here here cleaning the beach” sign.

So, a good day out – great company, lots of fresh air, a swim and the knowledge that a tiny fraction of the ocean plastic that’s out there got diverted – to Jan’s house where it awaits sorting. It is a tiny fraction, but we are just three of the many people worldwide who do this on a regular basis. So it turns out that the best cure for the beach cleaning blues, is to go out and clean a beach.


One thought on “in which we revisit a previously-cleaned beach and undertake a not-quite official clean

  1. I LOVE, ADMIRE, and APPLAUD what you are doing. And I really UNDERSTAND — and am so glad to find a kindred spirit!

    When I go to any beach (Jones Beach & Coney Island are my local beaches here in NYC) I cannot understand how the swimmers can blithely swim past al the plastic bags floating by like jellyfish. Without making any special effort, i.e., by just extending my arms in various directions, I can easily snag a big heap of bags for the trash can. Oh me oh my.

    And I so know what you mean about how hard it is to just spend a day at the beach and ‘not see’ the trash. I am resigned that instead of admiring seashells, as in my childhood, I am channeling my collector’s impulse to picking up trash.

    I look forward to learning more about what you do. Know that you are not alone — I just wish there were more of you — like, I wish we ALL cared and picked up trash. Keep going strong and all the best to you and your beach-cleaning buddies, Reba

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