We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children

The Great British Beach Clean: Cambois 18th September 2016

I encounter far too many people who couldn’t care less about the environment. I see fly tippers in broad daylight chucking boxes into hedges. Inconsiderate litterers throwing cigarette butts and fast food packaging out their car windows. Dog walkers dutifully picking up their pets poo, and then inexplicably hanging it from a branch of a nearby tree.

What is wrong with people?

Thankfully these clowns are becoming a dying breed. We’re evolving slowly but surely into a species that understands the importance of protecting our planet. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world unite during the third weekend in September as part of the International Clean Up.

Our banner at the road side

We’re passionate about protecting the environment at The Fifth Point. We spend so much of our time in the ocean. I guess it’s only natural that we are drawn to our beaches, in particular, to help tidy them up. Any trash we can pick up from the shore prevents it from entering the ocean, plus its vitally important to remove any item that might cause a risk of entanglement or ingestion to our marine life.

A young seal tangled in fishing line

On Sunday 18th September our group of dedicated volunteers scoured the sands at Cambois Beach.

Volunteers carefully climb into the dunes to remove litter
Volunteers discuss the plan of action
A lovely day for a good beach clean

This place is particularly special for me as it’s where my grandparents ashes are scattered. Every Christmas Eve without fail, the family braves the elements to attempt to light a candle in their memory. The wind usually keeps blowing it out so we end up in Charltons with a pint instead. It’s also where James asked me to marry him. I reckon the wind blew my senses out on that day too.

We had a lush day for it. When the sun is beating down on the North East coast, there really is no better place to be. When James and I arrived, we had a quick look at what rubbish was lying around and set up the survey area. We were pleasantly surprised when we saw there was hardly any trash on the beach. We were even more surprised that by the end of the survey the team had removed 46kg

Where the hell did that come from?

Cambois beach appears clean, but actually that's not the case

The problem with Cambois is that it has an extremely high tide line. We conducted the clean at low tide so when we were setting everything up, the beach appeared immaculate. Unfortunately this was because all the debris had already been washed out to sea that day.

As the volunteers worked in the strand line (the point where the water reaches highest up the beach) they found over 300 individual pieces of trash. The area was only a 100m long by about 3m wide. Half of the strand is built up with rocks as a protection to the dunes behind. The powerful wave action has managed to wedge bottles and cans deep within the rocks and tangle fishing net and rope in the crevices.

Fishing line stuck between rocks
A bottle is hidden underneath rocks
Wave action has forced this metal bottle top between two heavy rocks
Rope tangled around rocks
Volunteers Pick Up Rubbish In The Strand Line

We removed a great deal of “picnic litter” discarded by inconsiderate beach goers. The beach also followed the global trend of being covered in an abundance of plastic fragments. The problem with plastic is that it never disappears. It just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces which will inevitably enter the food chain. What people seem to forget is that we’re part of that chain – we’re eating fish that are full of plastic.

You can find a full summary of the submitted data here.

Pie chart results from the survey

Dirty Dog Owners...

We also removed about 2kg of dog poo. Yuk. I’ve never understood why people bag up the poo and then leave the bag. At least if the poo is left on the ground, unbagged, it has a chance of decaying. Sticking it in a plastic bag just means the smelly parcel will sit there. Forever.

 

 

 

I dunno if this is the answer... the dogs don't look impressed

There are dog poo bins available in the car parks, but as the owner of a pet walking company explained as he stopped for a chat, they’re just overflowing. He reckoned we were carrying out a thankless task and that we shouldn’t do it because the council will just rely on people like us. While I agree that the council could probably do more I understand that they struggle because of ever tightening budgets. I still think that every little helps and I’m eternally grateful to the volunteers who help us in our cause. We love the beaches, we love the ocean and will do as much as we can to help protect the marine life that live here.

Hard working volunteers with their haul of trash
Stanley receives his present and certificate for helping

Our youngest volunteer, Stanley, received a certificate and his very own litter picker for his hard work!

The Fifth Point have adopted several beaches in the North East as part of The Marine Conservation Society’s Beach Watch initiative. We pledge to conduct a beach clean-up and survey on one of our beaches every month. Alongside Cambois, we’ve also adopted Little Haven, Sand Haven and Marsden near our base in South Shields.

We'd like to say a massive thank you to all our volunteers and also to Northumbrian Water for donating several litterpickers and bags and JW Colpitts for donating hi viz vests. 

If you’d like to come along to any of our clean ups, keep an eye on our Facebook page and also the MSC website for details.

Posted in Environment.

Nic Emery

Nic is one of the co-founders of The Fifth Point. She is a Master Instructor with a keen interest in environmental conservation.

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