North Somerset’s coastlines need YOU: Join our campaign to clean up plastic waste

Volunteers carried out a beach clean in Clevedon last month.

Volunteers carried out a beach clean in Clevedon last month. - Credit: Contributed

There has been a 222 per cent increase in the amount of litter found on the sea floor – and most of it is plastic, which does not degrade and is endangering marine life. We want YOU to join our Cleaner Coastlines campaign.

Our Cleaner Coastlines campaign launches this week.

Our Cleaner Coastlines campaign launches this week. - Credit: Archant

The rise in litter on UK beaches in the past 10 years, and the harmful effect plastic in particular is having, has prompted the Times to launch an ambitious Cleaner Coastlines campaign.

While plastic bottles, straws and takeaway boxes seem disposable, they take more than a thousand years to break down and far too many of them are ending up on our beautiful beaches.

We are launching our Cleaner Coastlines campaign in conjunction with our sister paper the Weston Mercury, and with North Somerset Council – and we need you to get involved.

We want the whole of North Somerset to earn Plastic-Free Coastline status from Surfers Against Sewage, a grassroots movement cleaning up UK beaches and working to prevent the world’s oceans becoming a plastic wasteland.

Over the coming weeks and months, the Cleaner Coastlines campaign will show how people can make small changes which will make a significant difference to the environment.

Cllr Peter Bryant, executive member for waste, said: “The amount of plastic every one of us uses daily is just unsustainable.

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“Action must start with manufacturers and supermarkets who all have a responsibility to reduce unnecessary packaging. But we must all play our part too.

“Instead of buying bottled water and binning the bottle after a single use, why not invest in a re-usable bottle and drink tap water? And we can all choose to buy items with less packaging in the first place.”

Michael Gove.

Michael Gove. - Credit: Submitted

Government endorsement for Cleaner Coastlines

The Government minister responsible for the environment has endorsed the Times’ Cleaner Coastlines campaign.

Writing for the Times, the secretary of state for the environment Michael Gove said: “It is campaigns like this, and environmental organisations like Surfers Against Sewage and its awarding of Plastic-Free Coastline status, that spread an idealism and commitment to halt and reverse the trends and forces harming our planet.

“They show us that where there’s a will there’s a way to improve the environment for the next generation.”

Mr Gove said the campaign could not come at a more crucial time as eight million tonnes of plastic enters the oceans every year, posing a serious threat to the marine environment.

He said: “The Cleaner Coastlines campaign is a great way for people to do their bit in protecting the natural world on their doorstep.”

Why does this matter?

Around 80 per cent of the litter found on the sea floor is plastic – and unlike natural products, it does not disintegrate but breaks into smaller pieces.

It is estimated half of the plastic finding its way into the ocean has only been used once before being thrown away, and much of it could have been recycled.

Around 36 million plastic bottles are used in the UK every day, but only 21 million are collected for recycling.

Cllr Peter Bryant said: “15 million every single day end up going to landfill, littering our streets and countryside, or, worst of all, polluting our rivers and seas.”

There are simple changes we can all make to help our environment, and our Cleaner Coastlines campaign will show you what actions you can take.

Get involved

Everyone can get involved with this campaign, from individuals ensuring they are recycling correctly and reducing their plastic waste, to businesses reducing the amount of single-use plastics they issue.

We can all do more to protect our seas and people are urged to ensure all plastic – and other items – are properly recycled, whether that is in the kerb-side collections, or by using the correct bins along the seafront.

Would you be interested in becoming a community champion on our steering committee? Email for details. Search for Cleaner Coastlines: Weston and North Somerset plastic-free campaign to get involved.