Cleaner beach, cleaner world, cleaner conscience, cleaner future.
We are lucky enough to be able to visit the beach fairly often. Each time we do, I am reminded what a wonderful place our Earth is. Going about our day-to-day business it is easy to forget we live on a planet, we are consumed by our own little world. But coming to the beach where you can see the furthest point before the Earth curves out of sight, really reminds me how much bigger my world is. And it is so beautiful.
As I looked through the piece of pipe my son had proudly raised up to show me, I could see the beautiful shimmering sea. I could almost see a future world. One where the beaches and the hedgerows and the rivers and the moors were littered with shells and flowers and nature was truly natural. A world with clean air and clean seas. Where people lived alongside animals, fulfilling their role as protectors. Where everything was made and used and reused consciously.
But the beauty of the blue sea is always tainted by my knowledge of what lurks beneath the surface. I know that there is so much plastic and litter in our oceans that it is overwhelming. Despite there being so many devastating statistics out there for people to access (have a quick Google) the problem doesn’t seem to be getting any better.
We’ve always picked up what litter we can when we’ve been at the beach but it can be so disheartening when there is so much and there are so many people around us just walking on by. But every little helps. Surely it is better to do something than not, even if the task is far too big. And then I came across #2minutebeachclean on Instagram and found a whole community of people doing their little bit. And suddenly it felt like, yes! We really are making a difference! If everybody just picked up litter for two minutes on their way back across the beach, what a difference it would make!
Yes, there are always going to be people who just don’t care. Who feel entitled to have dinner on the beach and leave behind their plastic bottles and wrappers and don’t get me started on the dog poo bags left on rocks -why bag it if you’re not going to bin it?! But I think the majority of us do care. We want to make a difference. We want a better future for our children’s children but we aren’t quite sure what to do. We’re not sure it will make much of an impact anyway. Or we’re just too busy.
I really think this is the way forward. It feels wonderful to be part of the solution! And it doesn’t take much effort, just two minutes. We love our #2minutebeachclean bag but you don’t have to have one to join in. Bring your own. Fill your bucket. Or even just a pocketful. It all makes a difference. It’s all better than not doing anything. And it’s fun! We do find some odd and interesting things. The saddest though has to be the plastic-wrapped fish…
It doesn’t have to be on a beach if you don’t live near one -litter picking is just as helpful on land! Please have a look at their campaign. Their boards are popping up on lots of beaches to highlight the issue too which I think is wonderful.
In the Spring we also took part in a beach clean organised by Surfers Against Sewage and it was great to see such a big difference being made in just a couple of hours, lots of bags were collected!
Of course, cleaning up our planet is only part of the solution. Wouldn’t it be great if we could stop the problem at source? Getting manufacturers to change their ways might not seem manageable to us as individuals but we can change our own ways! Even this can seem like such a big task. Plastic and our disposable lifestyle are so ingrained. Yet it is relatively new. We have done so much damage in such a short space of time, it feels like it is spiralling so fast that soon it will be too late. But it’s never too late to make a change. It’s easier to do by starting small. I am nowhere near where I would like to be in terms of living with a more positive impact on our planet but I am living far more consciously and I think that is key. Being aware of the choices we make and the impact they have. It just takes a little extra thought – bringing a reusable bottle with you instead of buying bottled water. Choosing loose fruit and veg instead of ones wrapped in plastic. Reusing glass jars for food storage instead of plastic tubs. Investing in a washable sandwich wrap instead of using cling film. Choosing skincare products (or making your own) that don’t contain microbeads. I wonder how much plastic we eat when we eat fish…?
All very little changes but once I started thinking more and more about what would happen to the things I bought once I had finished with them, the easier it was to make the changes.
But the key, I think, is the next generation. Our children inherit this wonderful planet. I think it is so important that they choose to live consciously by following our example.
My son is such a good litter spotter now! He doesn’t know all the facts as I also want him to be able to enjoy the freedom of childhood without the burden of worries. But he does know that sea creatures will mistake the plastic for food or get trapped in it and how horrid that would be for them. He loves to help with the recycling and he is starting to make his own choices. He is interested in how things are made and where they come from and what happens to them when we have finished with them. This has opened up basic discussions about things that occur naturally and can rot or be recycled and those that are made by people and won’t break down. When choosing a present I have explained that I’d rather save up and buy him something made from wood or metal than have lots of plastic toys that won’t last as long (but ironically will last forever!) But I don’t force my decisions on him.
Recently his beloved red bucket broke. I said he could have a new one soon and he asked if we could find a metal one so that when that one gets worn out it can be made into something new. It was so wonderful that he made that decision completely on his own. That my choices and our discussions had obviously left an impression on him. I think leading by example is the most effective way to bring about change.
There are lots of resources out there explaining these issues to children. Although I think discussion e involvement are more beneficial, we have enjoyed the Charlie and Lola book: Look After Your Planet, which gets children to think about what happens to their rubbish when it is thrown away. And The Octonauts episode: Pelicans,which highlights the issue of the Atlantic floating garbage patch.
But lets all just start small. Two minutes picking up litter. Who knows what it could lead to? Most definitely a cleaner beach and a cleaner conscience and hopefully a cleaner future for our precious children.