Brits are being urged to join the country’s biggest-ever beach clean as part of a new campaign to reignite awareness around marine plastic pollution and counter an increase in single-use plastic since the pandemic.
Launched today (8 April) by UK charity Surfers Against Sewage, the ‘Million Mile Beach Clean’ aims to inspire 100,000 people to help clean a million miles of natural environment by the end of the year, by clearing their local beach, river, street or green space.
To kick off the campaign, the charity commissioned a 50-metre sand drawing of a seal surrounded by plastic on Cayton Bay in Yorkshire, to highlight the impact of plastic pollution on marine wildlife.
Willing volunteers can collect rubbish throughout the year and log their cleans on the running app Strava, with group cleans encouraged to take place between 15 and 23 May run by community ‘Clean Leaders’.
It comes after a new survey of 2,000 people by Surfers Against Sewage found over half of Brits think Covid-19 has led to a rise in plastic pollution, and a fifth said they have bought more single-use plastic since the pandemic. Over half (51 per cent) said they see more plastic on UK beaches than wildlife.
The campaign is also seeking to reconnect people with their natural environment while having a positive impact, after the isolation of the last year.
“After more than a year of isolation, social distancing and reduced physical activity, the Million Mile Beach Clean reconnects communities with the environment and provides numerous benefits to mental health and physical wellbeing. Sign up and get involved today and together we can make a difference," said Hugo Tagholm, chief executive of Surfers Against Sewage.
Gillian Burke, wildlife presenter and biologist, said: “Making the connection between mental health and environment is key in mobilising communities in the right way and the Million Mile Beach Clean does just that. 100,000 volunteers, each cleaning their local beach or river or street or mountain – the impact speaks for itself.”