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Are you a beach clean virgin?

Heather Suttie, Corporate Social Responsibility Manger at Optical Express shares five reasons why everyone should take part in a beach clean.

Sunshine, fresh air, exercise and good fun are just some of the reasons I highly recommend taking  part in a beach clean. There are lots of ways to become involved in a beach clean and charitable organisations such as Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Keep Britain Tidy, and the Marine Conservation Society can help you organise your own event or you can take part in organised events. As we head into the Spring there are lots of opportunities to do your bit for the environment and tackle marine pollution.

Optical Express is a member of the Marine Conservation Society and last year I took part in my first ever beach clean. It’s an experience I highly recommend to people of all ages, whether you do it with your work colleagues or with your family and friends or join other volunteers, it’s a great way to spend time giving back to charity and you’re doing your bit for the environment.

Seeing is believing

As a first time beach cleaner and after just three hours of coast clearing - I could not only see, but also feel the benefits of getting involved.  My first ever beach clean with my colleagues at Optical Express took place near Bristol at the Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust.  It’s a beautiful spot and I naïvely thought when I first arrived around 7.30am, that the beach was spotless.

It wasn’t until close up inspection that I realised that the beach was actually littered with many items of plastic, of every shape, size and texture. In fact, our small team of eight, picked up and logged almost 300 items of marine litter. I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me we were about to uncover so much plastic pollution. So to summarise, beach cleans allow every participant the opportunity to witness first-hand, the issues caused by plastic pollution and most importantly, they help us realise that we can all make a difference.

Good exercise

We easily covered 10,000 steps collecting litter from the beach and we were so lucky with the weather that we spent more than the allocated three hours collecting items. It’s also free and the fresh air is great for our well-being. Even if you just do it for thirty minutes, you’re sure to feel the benefits! If you want to track your progress and count your steps there are a number of free apps you can download for your phone.

Act local, think global

Taking part in a beach clean is about so much more than picking up litter and plastic pollution. You are making a difference on a much larger scale. Yes, you may be carrying this out in your local area but the knock on effect is world-wide and the findings of your beach clean are important too. Most organised beach cleans conduct surveys during and after the event asking volunteers to record their findings; beach clean organisers will then analyse this data, picking up on trends and sources and implementing future campaigns in order to prevent litter from causing environmental damage.  

If you’re active on social media and want to engage with like-minded individuals, you can take part in campaigns using hashtags such as the #twominutebeachclean and #minibeachclean as these social media conversations gain traction by attracting widespread attention. Posts are shared, liked, retweeted and reposted by people all over the world. These campaigns invite people to carry out beach cleans off their own back, you don’t have to wait for an organised event - you can take control and organise your own!

It’s good to give back

There’s a real feel good factor and morale boost when you do something for charity, whether you’re doing it on your own or with your family or work colleagues, and we can all play a part in tackling plastic pollution and marine litter. Even better if you’re taking part in a clean-up event in your local community.

Great team building

The positive atmosphere, encouragement and motivation built up by a group of people all ages and from all backgrounds is something very special and worth being a part of.

Beach cleans really bring back a sense of community and common interest, which we lack sometimes in today's busy and demanding schedules.

Tips

  • Prepare for all sorts of weather, as if the weather is anything like it has been recently, it can be four seasons in one day.
  • Make sure you wear some sturdy, waterproof footwear, especially on pebbled and shingled beaches.
  • Remember your phone to track your steps, take photos and engage on social media.
  • Alternatively, being on the beach is a great way to do a mini digital detox, so just enjoy being present and leave technology at home.
  • The beach clean organisers should have all of the materials you’ll require to do your litter pick, as well as a First Aid kit and will also provide easy to fill in sheets for you to record your findings.

So there we have it, five reasons why everyone, everywhere, should take part in a beach clean, whether it is an organised event or your own planned marine clean. Not only are you helping tackle a worldwide issue, you are taking part in a great all-round experience which boosts your mood and morale, all the while preserving natural beauty and inspiring others to think more mindfully about plastic, litter and realising how we can all play our part for the wellbeing of our planet.

Here at Optical Express we’ll be showing our support for the Marine Conservation Society as our teams are planning on taking part in a number of beach cleans throughout 2020. Watch the video from our first ever beach clean here.

Corporate Social Responsibility