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We start this roundup with the news that plastic food wrappers have overtaken cigarettes as the most common type of litter found on beaches and in waterways.
Every September, the Ocean Conservancy environmental group holds their International Coastal Cleanup, one day of litter picking coordinated right across the world.
In last year’s cleanup, over 4,700,000 food wrappers were collected across the globe, compared with 4.2 million cigarette butts.
Among the wrappers found were sweet wrappers, crisp packets, and drinks pouches, and this is the first time that wrappers have been the most common type of litter that’s been found.
The director of Ocean Conservancy said that when the litter picks first began, volunteers were finding glass bottles, drinks cans, and paper bags, and now they are finding that plastic is by far the most prevalent litter as it has replaced other materials.
Ocean Conservancy say that manufacturers need to move away from disposable plastics and work on developing recyclable or compostable packaging.
During every cleanup, volunteers record every item of litter they pick up, and over the past 34 years, an eyewatering 344 million lbs of litter has been cleared from beaches and waterways across the globe. The data from the cleanups is used to inform environmental policy.
This year’s cleanup is going to be a smaller affair because of the pandemic, with the organisation recommending that smaller groups of volunteers and individuals hold cleanups close to home. If you want to find out more about the International Coastal Cleanup, head over to the Ocean Conservancy website.
On to Ipswich, where one woman is using her daily commute to work to pick up litter. Ruth Longhurst sets off before dawn every day in her car and picks litter along her five mile journey to work. She picks up cans, bottles, and plastic packaging and puts them in the nearest bin. Speaking of the strangest items she has come across on her travels, she said that she once found some pillows and a mattress in Ipswich town centre.
Speaking about peoples’ attitudes towards litter, she said that people are lazy and have grown up thinking that someone else is going to tidy up their rubbish. She added that it takes no effort at all to put rubbish in a bin or take it home with you, rather than just dropping it at the side of the road.
Although there are still a minority who drop litter, the situation in Ipswich has improved in recent years, and that’s partly thanks to an anti-litter campaign, which is cheekily named ‘Don’t Be A Tosser.’
The campaign was first launched in 2008 and has the support of local media, all of the Suffolk county, borough and district councils, Suffolk Constabulary and the Suffolk police and crime commissioner.
This year’s campaign aims to tackle the increase in litter after lockdown as well as reducing fly-tipping and graffiti.
And finally, we head south west, where an anti-litter campaigner swam 100 miles along the Jurassic Coast to raise awareness of marine pollution. Oly Rush swam from Exmouth to Dorset and raised over £7,000 for beach litter clean up charities.
He swam 13 gruelling miles per day and was shocked by the amount of litter he saw, which included a lot of plastic, fishing nets, and fishing line. He even saw some birds caught up in the line. He said that this made him carry on and he wanted to get people talking and thinking about litter, and hopefully persuade them to change their behaviour.
Oly has been involved in beach cleans since the easing of lockdown when the coast got a lot of visitors.
The money he raised will go to the charities Clean Jurassic Coast and GoPladdle who want to buy a small boat that will allow them to clear rubbish from hard to reach coves along the coastline.