After a break in 2020, the Big Beach Clean took place over the weekend between 17th and 19th September and Clean Coasts were overwhelmed with the incredible support and commitment shown by communities across Ireland.
The Big Beach Clean is an annual call to action that takes place in September at the end of the bathing season. Volunteers around Ireland were asked to register their clean up event and take part in a worldwide citizen science project, as part of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), operated internationally by Ocean Conservancy.
This year, a record number of over 400 clean-ups were organised by volunteers who removed 42 tonnes of litter across the country. In addition, more volunteers joined clean-ups facilitated by Clean Coasts officers in 8 different locations around Ireland.
In county Clare, volunteers organised clean-ups in 16 different locations, removing approximately 1.6 tonnes of marine litter. Among them, volunteers from Clean Coasts group Keep Lahinch Clean organised a clean-up that saw also local kids from the surfing school get involved after their class and collected over 10 bags of marine litter.
Sinead McCoy, Coastal Communities Manager, said: “After a break in 2020 due to Covid, we were excited to host the Big Beach Clean again, but we didn’t know what to expect. This year there was a significant increase in clean-ups organised, but in a different format: we saw more people registering for clean-ups as individuals or within their household.”
Sinead continued: “This year, there was an over 5% decrease in litter found across Ireland. Overall this is an incredible improvement. The work that Irish volunteers do all year round to tackle litter and less waste dropped by more conscious beach users mean that we are heading in the right direction!”
Big Beach Clean volunteers have also taken part in an excellent worldwide citizen science project that will help shape future policies and campaigns to help protect our ocean. The project entails collecting the amount and types of litter on Irish beaches and filling in Clean Coasts’ Marine Litter Data Cards. This will help heighten awareness about the issue of marine litter and serve as an indicator of the magnitude of the problem.
Once more, volunteers were asked to join the call to action, no matter how far from the coast, thanks to the involvement of An Taisce National Spring Clean programme. Statistics show that the number one cause of marine litter is litter dropped in towns and cities and getting involved in the Big Beach Clean has been a way for residents of non-coastal counties to help prevent litter entering our waterways tackle the problem at its source.
Finally, Cully and Sully supported the initiative again this year and hosted a clean up in Schull, co. Cork. Cullen Allen (Cully) said: “We were blown away by the amazing response to this year’s Big Beach Clean. It was so humbling to see all of the groups out across the country at our beaches and waterways. We had such fun at the Schull and Whites Bay events with the fantastic students, teachers and volunteers. We are proud to support Clean Coasts with this important initiative and hope to see this continues throughout the year. “