Protecting our Sussex beaches with annual spring clean

Beach clean
Beach clean

A charity dedicated to the protection of oceans, waves, beaches and wildlife is taking plastic pollution head on with coordinated beach cleans along our coast.

Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) is a grassroots movement which has grown into one of the UK’s most active and successful environmental charities.

Since its launch five years ago, SAS’s annual Big Spring Beach Clean has brought together over 150,000 volunteers, who have contributed two million hours of time to protecting and conserving our beaches for everyone to enjoy.

Beach cleans are being held across Sussex and volunteers are being sought to help with the effort.

Sussex events are:

Eastbourne Beach clean - March 23, 2019

Eastbourne Beach clean - March 24, 2019

Arun Canal, Loxwood River Clean - April 6, 2019

West Wittering Beach - April 7, 2019

Seaford Beach Clean - April 7, 2019

Saltdean Beach Clean - April 7, 2019

Chichester Canal clean - April 13, 2019

Brighton beach clean - April 13, 2019

Bognor Regis Beach Clean - April 14, 2019

Cuckmere river clean - April 14, 2019

Rob Hills, volunteer SAS South Coast rep for Bracklesham Bay, said the events are part of efforts to tackle plastic pollution at hundreds of locations around the country.

He said these are driven by a report by the House of Commons Environment Audit Committee this January.

The report said plastic not only makes up 70 per cent of all litter in the ocean but is also forecast to treble within the next 10 years if no action is taken to reduce its input.

Rob said: “Alongside removing plastic from the natural spaces around us, volunteers will conduct the UK’s biggest ever Plastic Pollution Audit to help further track and tackle plastic pollution to stop it at source.

“This year, we are going ‘from summit to sea’ by including mountain cleans for the first time.”

From April 6 to 15, in conjuction with the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation, SAS aims to mobilise more than 30,000 volunteers at 500 beach, river, city and mountain locations across the UK.

Rob said: “SAS is calling for inspired community leaders from all walks of life to help remove and track plastic pollution in their local area.

“These vital community events not only remove dangerous plastics from our unique and precious coastal environment, but also indicate where action needs to be taken further upstream to reduce the leakage into and impact of plastics on our ocean and beaches.”

If you are interested in taking part in April’s beach cleans or future local events, see the Chichester Beach Clean Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/chichesterbeachclean/or visit www.sas.org.uk to register your own community beach clean.

‘Small lifestyle changes’

Environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) is determined to make our seas and beaches, and the wildlife that lives there, ‘completely clean, safe and protected for everone, for ever’.

According to the charity, there are 5,000 items of marine plastic pollution per mile of beach in the UK.

Given this, SAS is building a Plastic Free Community (PFC) network to tackle avoidable single-use plastic across the board, from the beaches to the brands and businesses which create it.

To date, 470 communities have joined the initiative, but it is also open to businesses, schools and individuals.

Rob Hills, volunteer SAS South Coast rep for Bracklesham Bay, is currently working towards making Chichester a PFC.

Rob said: “The council last year created a motion to support plastic-free initiatives and remove single-use plastics from council premises, which was the first objective of PFC. We’re now asking schools, businesses and community groups to remove single-use plastics and replace them with sustainable alternatives.”

Rob said SAS is regularly invited into schools and other community groups to hold educational talks about the impact single-use plastics is having on our oceans. It also arranges school and corporate beach cleans, taking people on to beaches and combining educational talks and beach cleans, which ‘makes for a fun day out’.

Rob said he believes education is key: “It is great to see so many enthusiastic people during these talks and events showing an interest in keeping our natural spaces tidy.”

One of SAS’s goals is to help us change our habits and reliability on plastics.

Rob said: “Everyone can make a difference by making some small lifestyle changes. Just have a think about what you’re using.

“How many takeaway coffees are you buying each week that could be put in a reusable cup (and often save you money)?”

Rob’s suggests for reducing plastics use range from buying a reusable coffee cup, water bottle and cutlery to holding back from asking from a straw.

“If you’re giving a straw, question why! Take that reusable carrier bag to the shops with you.

“These are just a few small changes, but imagine if everyone did this!”