On first glance, the beaches around St Ives seem very clean. But start looking closer and you start to see all sorts of litter. It is especially bad after a very high tide or storm – or during the Summer when the visitor numbers are really high!
Types Of Litter You Find On Cornish Beaches
- Plastic, so much plastic. It is really terrible how much plastic is ending up on our shores.
- Dog poo in bags. Whyyyyy? Why go to the effort of bagging it up if you are just going to dump it on the beach?
- Cigarette butts. So very yucky. I’m not ragging smokers – do what you wish. But don’t sit there, enjoying our beautiful beach whilst having a cigarette, only to stub it out and leave in ON THE BEAUTIFUL BEACH. You wouldn’t do that in your garden or living room carpet would you? (Apologies for the rant, my kids are forever picking up cigarette butts when they dig on the beach).
- Nappies. Oh my goodness me. I’ve only found one, but I’ve heard tales of more. Of course you must change your babies nappy. But for goodness sake, please don’t bury it in the sand. It won’t miraculously vanish, it will surface very quickly. It is disgusting!
- Picnic items. Sandwich bags and crisp packets are the worst. They might just get blown away, but please run after them and take them home with you.
- Barbecue things. Those silver trays are often left behind. I know they might be hot, but there is sea water all around you to cool them down.
- Beer cans. I might be unfairly blaming the teens for this, but often we find beer cans around the remnants of a fire on a Sunday morning. Beach parties are great fun, but leaving your cans behind is really poor form.
- Fishing tackle. We often find ropes and nets all tangled together with the shoreline seaweed. I’m guessing these have fallen off boats, or been discarded as they are broken?
- Seaglass – yes this is actually rubbish. One person’s treasure etc. Seaglass is made either from the dumping of excess manufacturing out at sea, or from people chucking their beer or coke bottles into the sea. The very shiny, still sharp stuff is the latter. If the seaglass has a sort of white mottling, this is from quite old glass.
- Pottery. We find lots of terracotta or painted pottery pieces on the harbour beach.
- Lego. This is one of favourite types of beach litter. In 1997 a container full of Lego (4.8 million pieces) fell off a ship called the Tokio Express. Ironically, many of the lego pieces are nautically themed, so you get lots of diving flippers, octopuses, spear guns and other scuba gear.
- Lost toys. We often find lonely, lost toys. Little cars buried in the sand, playmobil characters left in the nook of a rock.
- Really, really, really old rubbish. We have often unearthed an old crisp packet that is dated from the 1980s. Or the plastic tops from smarties tubes. These can be dated by putting the information into google. They are usually from the 80s or 90s. This stuff just does not go away.
Mini Beach Cleans
We are trying to instill into our children that for every beach visit we make, we also find 5 pieces of litter each to take off the beach. It would be so lovely to think that if lots of us do this, our beach litter will be drastically reduced. The 4 of us take 20 pieces of litter off the beach each visit. Imagine how much litter would be removed if everyone did this!
If you are instagram or twitter minded, take a photo of your mini beach clean and use the hash tag #minibeachclean.
We often play the tiny finds game – the person to find the best tiny find wins. This can be anything from a door knob, a bit of old pottery to a bit from an electrical socket. We actually play this on most walks as it gets our children more interested in walking!
Organised Beach Cleans
There are lots of organised beach cleans around Cornwall at all times of the year. We try to post them on our events page (look for the tag “beach clean”).
Surfers against sewage are a big organiser. Check out their website here.
Organised beach cleans are really lots of fun. You get to meet some lovely people and they are very informal. They are suitable for all ages (the smaller ones are especially good as they are lower to the ground for spotting little things!). Depending on what time of year and what beach, dogs are welcome.
What Equipment Do You Need?
Most organisers bring lots of gloves, bags and buckets to collect the rubbish in. It is even better though if you bring your own. Litter pickers are also a really handy thing to bring along.
How Long Do Beach Cleans Take?
Most beach cleans last about 2 hours, but you don’t have to stay for it all. Any help you can give is always welcomed.
On organised beach cleans, the organisers take the rubbish away to be disposed of and recycled where possible.
If you are doing your own mini beach clean, please take the rubbish home with you and recycle what you can. Putting the rubbish into the nearest bin is okay if you must, but recycling is far better.