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Ocean’s 8 Brighton

Two tonnes of litter collected by Ocean's 8 Brighton at the Pride Big Beach Clean
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Ocean's 8 Brighton

Ocean’s 8 Brighton pulled off its first heist for Brighton Pride on Sunday 04 August. With the help of 1,000 volunteers, Ocean’s 8 Brighton hosted silent-disco litter-picking on Brighton Beach from 07.00 to 16.00 – ensuring a clean seafront could be enjoyed by everyone and that plastic and other litter wouldn’t escape into the sea.

By 10.00 most of the ‘big’ litter had been picked up and the beach was looking good! A remarkable improvement from previous years.

The Pride Big Beach Clean Crew and volunteers were relentlessly applauded all day by passers-by, locals and Pride attendees, who were thrilled to see such community spirit in action. Many people spontaneously joined in to litter-pick on the day.

Collected and recycled

Just over two tonnes of litter was picked up from two separate 1km stretches of Brighton Beach, where the Pride Big Beach Cleans took place.

About 500 bags of litter were collected – and all manually sorted by enthusiastic volunteers to maximise the recycling rate.

The mammoth effort enabled 1.5 tonnes of plastics, metal and glass litter to be sorted for recycling. About half a tonne of unrecyclable litter was sent to be incinerated at Veolia’s Energy from Waste Facility in Newhaven.

‘Ocean’s 8 Brighton was inspired by the Ocean’s 8 Hollywood movie. The idea of a diverse group of women with expertise and experience in a particular field working together to achieve great things was appealing. Our expertise is in environmental issues and we want to use this collaboration to deliver initiatives which engage people. The Big Pride Beach Clean is an excellent example of that.’

he Brighton Green Centre, founder of Ocean’s 8 Brighton

1k people registered

Following public outrage at the litter on the beach in previous years (and in fact year-round whenever lots of people visit the beach), Brighton Pride worked with – and sponsored – Ocean’s 8 Brighton to fix the problem for Pride weekend 2019.

The Ocean’s 8 Brighton heist was six months in the making, and inspired by crew member Amy Gibson’s awesome regular Pier2Pier Silent Disco Brighton Beach Cleans.

Pride encouraged attendees to the city-wide weekend celebrations to sign up to the Pride Big Beach Clean via their website, and over 1,000 people registered.

Remarkably, the majority of them did actually turn up on Sunday to voluntarily clean up the beach.

The volunteers came from all walks of life – from local and afar – and ranged from six-month-old babies to octogenerians. It was a really positive and inclusive event that truly reflects Pride values.

‘Although Pride organises no events on the beach, the beach is always busy on a summer’s weekend, and in the spirit of collaboration we wanted to support a collective approach to maintaining a cleaner, more sustainable city. Thanks to the hard work of Ocean’s 8 Brighton and over 1,000 volunteers registered for the Big Pride Beach Clean, all the rubbish was collected and sorted for recycling in just a few hours, leaving the beach ready for the weekend visitors to the city. As a thank you, each volunteer was given a free ticket to LoveBN1Fest with Jessie J, Grace Jones and a whole host of family and community entertainment. Hopefully more local businesses will come on board to support this brilliant collaborative approach and show their civic Pride.’

Managing director, Brighton & Hove Pride CIC

Nitrous oxide ‘gas canisters’

Ocean’s 8 Brighton was able to recycle more plastics than is possible locally by collaborating with London-based TerraCycle UK.

Empty nitrous oxide ‘gas canisters’ made up 150kg of the metal litter-picked from the beach. Ocean’s 8 Brighton was ‘quite shocked’ by their proliferation across the beach, but a humungous effort was made to pick them all out of the pebbles. ‘We do not know of any other event that specifically litter-picks for and separates out gas canisters to be recycled’, Ocean’s 8 Brighton said, ‘so we suspect that gas canister misuse and the consequent waste is prevalent but pretty much hidden usually at other events.’

‘I have worked at loads of outdoor and big events including Glastonbury and usually the canisters are cleared up with the general waste and not recycled. Ocean’s 8 Brighton went to the effort of separating them out which has led to them drawing so much attention at this event. But perhaps we have inadvertently revealed an almost invisible but widespread public health issue via our pedantic recycling efforts in Brighton.’

Waste expert and P.E.A. Awards judge

Claire Potter, a circular economy expert and P.E.A. Award winner, explains: ‘Nitrous oxide canisters are made from steel which, due to the design, cannot be refilled, but can be recycled in multiple facilities in the UK. Recycling metals is a great example of a circular economy as it reduces the amount of raw virgin metal ores that have to be excavated to produce ‘new’ metal. Many metal products already contain large amounts of ‘recycled’ content.’

Balloons, keys and a bed head

4kgs of littered single-use plastic balloons were also collected. They have a catastrophic impact on marine life if they enter the sea, so Ocean’s 8 Brighton was pleased they will be re-used by artist and Ocean’s 8 Brighton crew member Lou McCurdy, instead of ending up in the channel.

80kg of broken glass was also collected between Brighton’s two piers; the hazard was removed first thing on Sunday morning, ensuring the seafront was safe for everyone.

Lots of lost property was found, too – 45 sets of keys, a passport, many drivers’ licences, debit cards, ping pong balls, a baseball, broken sunglasses, toys, wigs, novelty plastic straws, clothing, tiaras, a vegetable peeler, purses and (randomly!) a bed head. All lost property has either been reunited with owners or is awaiting collection from the Seafront Office on Brighton Beach.

Ocean’s 8 Brighton is eternally grateful to every single volunteer who joined the event and everyone across Brighton and Hove who picked up any bit of litter they found and took it to a bin or home. The event is testament that we can all make a difference – and we did!

Click here to read our interview with SAS’s Hugo Tagholm, who says ‘plastic is the new poo’.

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