Combatting plastic along our coastlines

We escaped the city to the coastal town Margate for a Sunday well spent. We joined Rise Up, Clean Up Margate for their monthly clean up along the coastline. Chatting to Amy one of the co-founders along the way.

Who are Rise Up Clean Up?

Rise Up was set up in the summer of 2020 as a response to the litter crisis affecting Margate’s beaches, organising regular, community beach clean ups.

The Rise Up team spoke to their local council and together installed 12 x tidy pack stations along Margate Main Sands, giving people free bags to help them do their own beach cleans helping normalise the act of litter picking.

They. have also shown the true power of the local creative community, creating anti-littering art installation in Margate Train Station which displays all the plastic collected off the Main Sands beach in just one day.

Do you know how much plastic you’ve collected and what it equates to?

I don’t know how much plastic we have collected exactly, as we do not sort through the rubbish, but we have collected over 540 bags of rubbish, which equates to over 3,000kg of litter.

Has the beach clean up brought the community closer?

Definitely, We have such a diverse range of people attending our cleans, from young families to retirees looking to meet new people. I think it was particularly valuable during COVID, as it was one of the only ways to get out and meet other people.

Would you say by taking part in the clean-ups, they have become a ritual for people taking part?

I definitely think they have become a way of connecting with the community and natural environment in which we live. There is undeniably a personal benefit to taking part in these cleans, as they provide a sense of purpose and of giving back. The act of cleaning is also quite meditative.

Do you find the clean-ups rewarding? And why?

I find it very emotional when a lot of people show up to protect the coastline that they love. When the rubbish problem was very bad in the summer, we had 65 people turn up to one clean. We were an enormous presence on the beach and it sent out a clear message that this town is full of people who care enough about the problem to stand up and act on it.

Are there ways for people to help the plastic problem if they can’t get to a beach for a clean up?

The fishing industry is the single biggest contributor to the oceans’ plastic problem. If you want to eliminate the single biggest cause, the most powerful thing you can do is to stop eating fish. Another thing to consider, is that change ultimately has to come from the top, so your greatest tool is your vote. We don’t collect any plastic straws from the beach any more, because a government mandate banned them. The government need to do the same with all pointless single use plastics, starting with the food industry. There is no reason why water should be sold in a plastic bottle, when it can be sold in a can, or a glass bottle. Each of us can write to our MP, sign petitions and put pressure on the government to take real action that will help solve the problem in the long run.

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