Last Friday (24th August 2018) some members of team gave a helping hand to local charity, Beach Buddies Isle of Man, in cleaning up one of the local beaches.
Sporting our jeans and t-shirts and with waterproofs at the ready (just in case those forecasted rain showers made an unwelcome appearance), we made our way down to a stretch of beach in the South of the Island and met up with charity founder, Bill Dale.
Bill kindly provided us with our beach cleaning equipment; protective gloves, a large collection bag each and the all important ‘litter picker’.
Now the ‘litter picker’, could be a slightly controversial piece of equipment for some, particularly those that have ever struggled with chopsticks. If that was you, then you like me, may find this utensil equally as… interesting, for want of a better word!
That said, we all got ourselves ready and headed down onto the beach, intrigued as to what we might find during our expedition.
As the team split off in various directions to commence the beach clean, we were quickly disappointed to see the number of different things that had been dumped or washed up on the beach.
It was shocking to see the amount of plastic, rope and general waste just lying there, waiting for the next victim to hurt, choke or strangle…. A bird, a small animal or perhaps a small child!
What was more shocking was some of the bigger items we came across – large oil cans, a construction site helmet, a large section of a commercial fishing net which was that heavy it took two of us to carry it, not to mention a laundry basket…yes a LAUNDRY BASKET!!
In just an hour and a half, our team of 8 had collected a small trailer worth of rubbish and that was just from a stretch of beach approximately half a mile in length….imagine how much we would have found and collected in a day or across a couple of miles of beach?!
Furthermore take into consideration the fact that the Isle of Man has nearly 100 miles of coastline, a lot of which is beach; how much waste is there lying about – unknown, unfound and consequently untouched – it just doesn’t bear thinking about!
So what is Beach Buddies?
Beach Buddies is a volunteer beach cleaning charity based in the Isle of Man. It was founded in October 2006 when two people were walking their dogs on the beach at Kirk Michael on the west coast of the Isle of Man in the British Isles. Until then, no one had any idea of the scale of the problem facing the Isle of Man.
Within six weeks those same two people had collected hundreds of bags of rubbish (30,000 plastic bottles alone!) with some of the materials collected dating back as far as 30 years.
After operating on a very small scale for several years, Beach Buddies decided to use social media to try to attract more volunteers to get involved, chiefly through their Facebook page Beach Buddies Isle of Man.
By the end of 2013, they had been joined by almost 1,500 volunteers and at the end of 2015, the number of different volunteers who had taken part in Beach Buddies’ events surpassed 6,000.
Another 1,000 new volunteers were added during 2016 and by the end of August 2017 the total passed another landmark at 8,000.
In 2016, the achievements of Beach Buddies were recognised by UNESCO Biosphere as “an excellent example” of how to tackle the problem of marine litter on the world’s beaches. Beach Buddies has also won numerous awards for its ground-breaking achievements, including an honour from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for “Services to the Marine Environment”.
Beach Buddies has found a very simple, but effective, method of keeping beaches free from marine litter, and the rest of the world is watching.
Their method is simple – get small teams of friends and like-minded people together, host events, try to find some small sponsorship to buy basic equipment, tell your local politicians and the local media what you are doing – and then just get started!
Having done our very first beach clean, we can’t wait to do another and are looking at making it a regular occurrence .
Not only was it a good feeling giving back to the local community and rewarding in the knowledge that you had made a difference (albeit a small one); it was actually quite good fun and every little helps!!
If you would like to get involved with a beach clean, why not get in touch with Bill Dale at Beach Buddies. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can make a difference.
Written by Lesley-Anne Walker, Head of Marketing