BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 08 Aug '19

Surfers Against Sewage launches its biggest ever Autumn Beach Clean, mobilising 20,000 volunteers at 500 events across the UK

Volunteers are being called to action as one leading UK marine charity launches a series of beach cleans this autumn.

The Autumn Beach Clean event, which is being held from 19-27 October and has been running annually since 2011, is part of a movement by national charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) to protect coastlines, create cleaner oceans and clean up inland areas.

It sees thousands of volunteers rallying their community every year to remove things like plastic pollution for a cleaner, safer environment – whether it’s a beach, river, street or mountain.

A call for Clean Leaders

Over the last few years, the Autumn Beach Clean has seen 1,419 cleans organised, mobilising 50,033 volunteers to clear 114,341kg of plastic pollution from beaches and rivers across the UK to date.

This year, organisers hope the event will be bigger than ever before.

SAS is now calling for Clean Leaders to answer the call and volunteer to lead their communities. Click here or email beachcleans@sas.org.uk to receive a step-by-step guide and all of the equipment needed to organise cleans free of charge, and receive day-to-day support from the Beach Cleans Team.

The SAS brand audit

Thanks to the huge number of volunteers, SAS was able to collect hundreds of data sets as part of a highly successful recent brand audit, which analysed 49,400 pieces of plastic pollution (of which 20,045 were branded).

This, in turn, allowed SAS to submit vital evidence into a number of governmental consultations, including the Extended Producer Responsibilities and the Deposit Return Scheme – which will soon see consumers pay a small fee when buying drinks in plastic bottles or cans that is reimbursed when they return the container.

Now, to continue this vital work, organisers are hoping to reach 500 cleans for the autumn series, with the help of 20,000 volunteers collecting 30,000kg of pollution – the highest target so far.

‘The gateway to environmentalism’

This autumn will also see a continuation of the Summit To Sea initiative, which is encouraging people from non-ocean areas to get involved – whether that’s by getting out into nature to do river and mountain cleans or cleaning up urban environments by removing pollution from the streets.

‘While beach cleans alone will never be the answer to plastic pollution, they are an incredible showing of community spirit and serve to educate and raise awareness on a mass scale. In short, they are the gateway to environmentalism. Every piece of plastic volunteers remove is also a victory for our beaches. Each piece of plastic also provides evidence to support our campaigns calling for packaging and business reform.”

‘It is always inspiring too see how our communities mobilise around our nationwide beach and river clean events, engaging more and more people each year and truly becoming a force for good for our ocean’

JACK MIDDLETON
SAS’s community manager

Plastic free communities

The Autumn Beach Clean also makes up part of SAS’s work on battling single-use plastics – something which has seen Plastic Free Communities and Plastic Free Schools explode across the country.

581 communities have signed up to the project, and 70 of them have achieved full Plastic Free status – all of which goes towards creating safer, cleaner environments for people and wildlife.

Within the project, there are 2,345 business working towards eliminating single-use plastic from their places of work – with 1,606 of these already landing the title of approved Business Champions – as well as 1,351 schools signed up to the programme to remove things like plastic milk bottles, with 52 having achieved status. The number of schools signed up equates to 580,000 pupils.

To reach as many communities as possible, SAS will be working with a number of ‘Community Partners’ during the Autumn Beach Clean to expand into new networks and use other relevant groups’ experience for a bigger clean than ever before.