Saturday afternoon saw the beach, Ham and town alive with so many people picking up plastic, bottles, glass, bags, metal and all sorts of other weird stuff! We saw the Sidcombers out in number, and reckon there were also over 50 of our Sidmouth Plastic Warriors out too, starting at both Holmdale (Prayer Room) and the sailing club, with various collection points made by EDDC’s fantastic gardener Noel on our behalf. Thanks to everyone who turned out (and to the weather for changing completely in the afternoon, with not a drop of rain!) There were also hundreds of people out walking and enjoying the sun so many conversations were had, and ‘seeds’ were planted!
I myself focused on the roadside along the promenade, and very disturbingly discovered the grills running along the centre of the beach are housing a huge amount of plastic, just waiting to decay and spread itself directly onto the beach and into the sea.
I got out as much as I could reach (2.5 black bags) with my litter picker but this is an EDDC matter as the grills are bolted down and really does need properly addressing (not just once, but regularly, as presumably it will accumulate again as it is the point for all the debris in the roads in the town to run to when we have heavy rain). It also illustrates the problem of fast food containers and how they need to be biodegradable (cardboard?), not polystyrene! [Update – I have spoken to several people at EDDC and they are on it – they’re going to find out how to best organise cleaning it out regularly.]
We all were shocked also at the amount of fishing debris we picked up. The Warriors found four birds such as the one shown here, all with fishing wire wrapped around them. So not only is the plastic causing harm as it breaks down, it also does untold damage to wildlife.
We also found the usual large amount of bagged dog poo, which is also a health hazard as well as being disgusting. This seems to be getting worse, not better. If only we could encourage dog owners to use degradable bags – they if they do throw them in bushes it’s not such a catastrophe! However obviously binning them is preferable. Do we have enough dog bins? Could we have them throughout the town and beyond, at public footpath ‘hotspots’?
We know the benefit of doing regular beach cleans like this, but also ask that we keep up the pressure to push the ‘refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle’ to all residents, tourists and businesses in the town.
Please continue to ask any local business owners and managers to contact me if they are interested in being part of our bid to become a Plastic Free Coastline town with SAS – we need a few more businesses who have made 3 positive changes to get rid of single use plastic items they use/give out/sell etc (for example getting rid of plastic straws, or switching to glass bottles or cans for drinks, for the cafes – but it can be any businesses doing their bit).