Starting at The Fludyers Hotel, seven teams grabbed their ‘pick-up sticks’ and survey forms to record how much litter they could collect as part of the regional audit, recording the specifics of the items as they worked.
What seemed at first sight to be a relatively clean piece of coastline proved to be full of small bits of plastic wrapping, plastic bags, crisp packets, food and sweet wrappers and more besides. With a fair amount of rubbish being washed up from the sea, volunteers found wet wipes, plastic bottle tops and items left over from picnics - much of it often tangled in seaweed.
In total, volunteers collected over 10 black plastic bags full of rubbish – well over 25kg – including a range of pollutants including rope, fishing material, plastic and other debris.
A full summary of the survey data is available on the Marine Conservation Society website.
Andy Simpson at Community Action Suffolk said: “What a fantastic showing from Birketts and a huge result, over 25 kilos of waste was recovered including many personal sanitary products and now of course PPE masks. On first sight the beaches seemed quite clean. It’s amazing what you find when you look!”
Sharyn Scott, volunteer and Head of Marketing at Birketts commented: “It was certainly an eye opener as to how much plastic we consume on a daily basis from everyday items and how much of it ends up on the beach! It has made me think twice about how to prepare food for a picnic going forward and not using cling film or other food bags but instead using a sandwich box and decanting as much as possible in advance to avoid creating excess waste.
It is also evident that as parents we need to closely monitor how likely our children are to drop sweet wrappers, lollipop wrappings and drinks straws, possibly by accident. The amount of plastic cups was also significant, again highlighting the need to ensure we bring our own ‘cups for life’ and encourage local drinks suppliers to use cardboard or recyclable cups by refusing when offered plastic ones.”
Charlotte Simpson volunteer and Solicitor in Birketts’ Utilities Team added: ““It was nice to get outdoors and do something which not only benefits the local community but combats the issue of plastics in our beautiful oceans. There was a great sense of achievement in knowing that the rubbish we collected was now removed from the environment forever, though there was also a sense of sadness that so much rubbish was there in the first place. Creating more awareness of the need for every single one of us to take responsibility for disposing of our rubbish safely to protect the planet makes days like this even more worthwhile.”
With Birketts’ employees allocated one day a year to get involved in CSR activities, projects like this represent a wonderful opportunity to socialise with colleagues outside of an office setting and get some fresh air. As the charity are thinking of organising a further CSR day at the Orwell Estuary, a well-known litter hotspot, there are plenty of chances for individuals to play their part helping to protect the environment.