Beach cleans and plastic in Cornwall (or The hurdle of the nurdle: therapy for beach cleaners)

Plastic debris washed up on the beach

We talk a lot about beach rubbish, beach plastics and ghost fishing gear here in Cornwall. Not really surprising as you are never far from the coast. In the Roseland team alone we care for over a dozen main beaches, plus smaller coves and inlets. That's a lot of sand - and sadly, it’s a lot of nurdles too. There isn’t a single beach around this county untouched by plastic in some form.

Porthcunick beach
Porthcurnick beach on the Roseland
Porthcunick beach

The strandline is distressing.  You don’t have to walk far along one of our Cornish beaches to notice brightly coloured bits of plastic, nurdles, fishing line and litter.  It’s easy to believe the Marine Conservation Society’s reports of, on average, over 500 bits of litter per 100 metres on our British beaches.  Over a quarter of this litter is small bits of plastic and polystyrene.

Porthcurnick beach after a storm
Portthcurnick beach after a storm
Porthcurnick beach after a storm

Which is why you will find beach cleaners everywhere.  Ten thousand volunteers for The Great British Beach Clean removed 11 tonnes of litter from across the UK in a single weekend last year.  

Beach cleaning
People cleaning rubbish from the beach
Beach cleaning

Beach cleaning is worthy hobby and an endless pursuit. Most days, most beaches, you’ll find someone with a picker, a bag and a smile.  

Removing plastic from Towan beach
Removing plastic from Towan beach
Removing plastic from Towan beach

We are doing something.  We remove everything we can, we recycle everything we can.  We work with people and organisations that have the same clean up attitude.  Through the Ocean Recovery Project plastics found on Cornish beaches became a stage at Glastonbury last year. Beach plastics collected from across the South West were recycled into ten tonnes of mixed polymer to make stage boards for the festival. Everyone who collected plastic on our beach cleans last year was part of this rubbish to recycled sequence.

Tiny plastic nurdles are a real danger to wildlife
Plastic nurdles on Woolacombe beach
Tiny plastic nurdles are a real danger to wildlife


How can you help?

Every bit of plastic that we can remove from our beaches is one less bit in the sea.  A little win for an ocean in trouble is progress.  Pick up what you can, when you can.  

Chin up, keep cheery, see the sea and take in all that blue.