‘Bag It, Bin It, Don’t Flush It’ say beach clean volunteers!

The Marine Conservation Society volunteers hit Loughshore Park beach on Sunday to remove and survey its litter.  The 36 volunteers removed a grand total of 1620 items of litter from the short piece of coastline, including 156 cigarette stubs, 58 plastic bottles, 117 food wrappers and 33 drink cans!  Fortunately, the group was this time joined by teams from Virtual Visit Northern Ireland, WhatsOnNI.com, Newtownabbey Borough Council, The Art of Living and Bryson House Recycling.  Coca-cola, the sponsor of Tidy Northern Ireland, donated soft drinks for the clean-up volunteers.  Amanda Wilson, the organiser of the clean-up said, “It was brilliant to have the support of so many organisations that are concerned about the Northern Irish coastline.”  “The council litter picks the beaches regularly however it is a constant battle.  Events such as this, organized by Amanda, raises awareness of the problems facing our marine environment”, said Lindsay Matthews, Biodiversity Officer for Newtownabbey Borough Council.  Thomas McVea, the founder of Virtual Visit- NI said, “We have used our 360 capture technique to great effect on many of the great beaches that we have in NI. The presence of litter reduces the aesthetic appeal of a beach thus impacting on tourism.  We want be able to come back time and again to recapture and update our online visitors with the beauty of our beaches and show them off as they should be seen.”

Volunteers at last Sunday's beach clean at Loughshore with the Marine Conservation Society

The Marine Conservation Society is currently supporting the ‘Bag it, Bin it, Don’t Flush It’ campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the problems caused when items such as wet wipes, cotton buds, sanitary towels and other plastic items are flushed down toilets.  Not only are these items unsightly, but they can be ingested by marine wildlife, preventing them from feeding and ultimately resulting in their death.  Within an hour of litter collection at Loughshore, the group had removed 185 cotton buds, 157 wet wipes and 46 other items believed to have been flushed down the toilet.  “It’s clear that many people don’t realise the damage they are doing to our coastline.  Wet wipes and other plastic items should never be flushed down the toilet.  These wipes can also block your household sewerage systems, costing up to £250 to rectify” said Amanda.  Despite some wet-wipe packets claiming these items are flushable they don’t actually dissolve like toilet paper and can damage household sewerage systems.

The Marine Conservation Society Volunteers are currently gearing up for Beachwatch Big Weekend, a UK-wide litter survey and beach clean happening from 16-19th September.   With 23 beach cleans happening in Northern Ireland during the Big Weekend, there are plenty to choose from!  To get involved with future beach cleans or to organise your own clean-up, please contact Amanda at manda_wilson@hotmail.co.uk