Day 6 - Pt 1 Rhossili - A Vision of a plastic hell!

Thursday 6th April 2017

Suddenly the green rolling hills gave way to giant dunes marching in line towards the sea, some halted by green nets of vegetation, others free to tower in yellow above the surrounding land. The dunes stretched for miles north and south of us and over their shoulders you could glimpse the great blue ribbon beyond. We pulled up at the amazing Eddy’s café, perched on the side of the last green rolling hill; from the café we were served with a spectacular vista of the dunes, beach, and sea beyond. The friendly owner, Malcolm, greeted us with a big welcoming smile - the perfect antidote to 3-hour drive and 6 am start. He could not have been more helpful and our only regret was that we did not have time to stop for a cup of tea – having two surveys and cleans in one day today!

Walking through the towering dunes, we emerged to find the tide falling back towards the horizon, giving up a sea of sand in nearly all directions. Our tired hearts were uplifted by the stunning view of open and raw beauty before us. However, our hearts were soon brought crashing back to earth, hard, by what we saw next. The biggest plastic tide we’ve seen yet.

The contrast between Widemouth Bay the day before and Rhossili today could not have been greater.  Widemouth a group of 12 volunteers found 2.4kg of small plastic pieces over 2 hours to today's haul at Rhossili of 14kg by just 2 people in the same period!  

Some of the 14kg we found on Rhossili

Some of the 14kg we found on Rhossili

The reasons could be a combination of a number of factors, the most prominent we thought would be the relative remoteness and lack of an active local community on the scale of Widemouth.  It shows the power the local community can have in keep our beaches clean.

Ellie getting to work surveying the piles of litter on Rhossili beach

Ellie getting to work surveying the piles of litter on Rhossili beach

However, we should not rely on the coastal communities and activists to clean up our litter from our beaches for us - It is everyone's responsibility! We've witnessed, as we're sure many of you have, other people on beaches and miles away in towns and cities around the country, throw litter on the floor.  The thought process being that it is another person's responsibility to clean up.  

Beer bottle and Asthma inhaler amongst the litter we found.

Beer bottle and Asthma inhaler amongst the litter we found.

It was a beach we could have easily spent hours documenting and cleaning, however with only a couple of hours we simply didn’t have time to even make a dent on the huge volume of plastic waste stretching endlessly across the sand. Within 2 hours Ellie and Pete still managed to pick up 14 kg of plastic and litter, documenting nearly 400 items in just 100metres.  We collected so much that the plastic handle of our bag hoop snapped!

Our bag hoops gave out under the 14kg litter we picked up.

Our bag hoops gave out under the 14kg litter we picked up.

We found a pair of plastic tags on the beach.

Can anyone help us trace these items?

Can anyone help us trace these items?

The first red tag we've not had much luck researching, the second green tag, however, to be from the Bureau Veritas.  Specifically, it's Inspection Services which, according to the website here, inspect Oil & Petrochemicals, Metal & Minerals, Exploration & Mining, Coal and Agri-Chemical Fertilizers.  All these have areas are potentially very hazardous to the environment, begging the question - how did this get here?  If you've any more information or thoughts on either of these tags please do contact us, tweet or facebook us.  

The type of litter found consisted of approximately 60% random plastic fragments of various sizes, 20% pieces of netting and fishing lines, 15% bottle caps and 5% other.   

Sadly, we barely scratched the surface of what was there, but at the very least we can confidently say we captured some excellent survey data for online tagging and training our computer program.  

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