7. Two Minute Beach Clean
Task seven will take no more than two minutes of your week! On your next adventure to the beach, Clean Coasts asks you to spend those two minutes picking up litter, in order to protect wildlife from swallowing plastic and getting caught in fishing line.
To keep you safe while you work to protect birds and sea turtles, they are giving away free gloves and snazzy reusable tote bags. To get your kit, visit the Clean Coasts website and register for their #2minutebeachclean
Every year, one million seabirds die of marine litter entanglement or ingestion. Ireland creates the highest amount of plastic waste in the EU, at 63kg per person per year, compared to the EU average of 31kg.
When you hear statistics like these, it can be a challenge to even face the reality and scale of the ocean plastics problem. I find myself feeling skeptical as to whether small consumer choices, such as refusing plastic straws, can really add up to make a sufficient difference to these systemic issues.
Now, however, I realise that beach cleans are not so much about removing plastic from the ocean, piece by piece, as they are about bringing caring individuals together to form a movement big enough to bring about the necessary sea change.
In Ireland, champions such as Clean Coasts’ Richard Curtin and Flossie and the Beach Cleaners, have gamified beach cleaning and elevated it to the level of a competitive sport! Teams weigh their plastic catch and post it on social media with hashtags such as #2minutebeachclean and #ifyouseeitcleanit.
Mismanaged plastic waste is, of course, a global problem, and our first round of the Biosphere Challenge attracted enthusiastic litter pickers from over 9000 km outside of Ireland’s Biospheres. Beach cleans took place on the island of Madagascar (see here) and street cleans in land-locked Zambia! I stayed local and joined the Mount Merrion environmental group.
The hour I spend with them each month involves positive human interaction, fresh air, exercise, the bonding that comes from working together towards a common goal, and the happy brain chemicals we are rewarded with when we do good deeds.
These ingredients combine to give us hope, motivation, and a sense of our invincibility as a community—resources which will sustain us for the long haul as we clean up and campaign for our environment.
At our 4th webinar, Life Underwater, Richard Curtin presented statistics, policy, and plans for cleaning up ocean plastics in such a funny, uplifting way that I was able to absorb them and feel hope for a better future.
Where is your nearest clean up group? Join them on their next outing for an almost guaranteed mood boost.