Another year, another beach clean. Of course, I couldn't do this alone and this year I was able accompanied by a very enthusiastic and interested group of individuals from Work Party 1.
We spent the best part of a day contorting our bodies trying to reach bits of rubbish that were wedged in the nooks and crannies between the beach boulders followed by an hour or so sorting the material. This part is always interesting and we had a few giggled moments trying to figure out what things were and as many moments saddened that all these items had found their way on to the beach.
A total of 717 items were removed from the stretch of boulder beach at Village Bay. At 0.7 items/m this is considerably lower than the 2013 national average of 2.3 items/m. The rubbish weighed 64.1kg, this sounds like a lot but is in fact lower than what we collected the previous year. A third of all the items were made of plastic. This is a depressing amount and probably an underestimate given that many small pieces of plastic may fall between the pebbles and remain out of reach. Plastic is a particularly troublesome material as it will persist in the environment for many hundreds of years, breaking into ever smaller pieces that are hazardous for wildlife
We don't just clear the beach of litter for aesthetic purposes the information we collect is submitted to the Marine Conservation Society and included in their national data set. The results from St Kilda are a valuable addition because the beach is the location least likely to accumulate waste from land based resources. The results from the national beach clean are not published until early 2015 so it will be a while before we know how our haul compares to the national average. I suspect it will be marginally less but that's no comfort really when annual statistics from last year show that beach litter was at its highest level for two decades.
it's not all glum news though as I'm sure getting involved with our beach clean inspires the Work Party volunteers to think a little more about waste and recycling when they return home. Small steps to the change the world!