Cleaning Balywalter Beach
Operation Clean Up 8 took us back to Ballywalter for a second time this year, the sun was blazing in the sky, tide moving out and the sand soft beneath our feet. But the litter problem we had worked so hard on 3 months ago, hadn't changed at all.
Upon arriving in the car park you could instantly see the amount of litter both on the beach and around the car parking area. We poped open the boot, grabbed our litter pickers and bags and a small group of us headed to the beach, quickly filling 2 bags with trash as more of the team arrived. We even had amazing support from several members of the public who, after a quick chat about what we were doing took a litter picker and bag and joined in the clean up, working for an hour along side us and making a difference to their local beach.
A second smaller group of volunteers from the amazing group Vkind spent the 3 hours working away at the north end of the beach, dropping of their bags as they finished.
The beach is long and sandy, with many rocky outcrops creating rock pools and bays as the tide washes out, but it also leaves behind thousands of plastic fragments trapped in the drying seaweed. i spent close to an hour in a space no larger than 5 meters squared filling an entire bag with these small pieces, none bigger than my palm, most the size of a fingernail. Others in the group ventured further discovering tyres, broken beach toys and much more.
While we worked we chatted about the issues and about the need for people to be made aware of this issue, and I am pleased to say that soon Clear Ripple Projects will be launching a mini video series in an attempt to raise peoples awareness of the issue of pollution in the oceans and on the beaches around the worlds coastlines. With the first episode scheduled for the end of this month.
Together as a group we managed to remove 15 large bags of litter from the beach not including the huge carpet and several broken lobster cages that we hauled from the shore. You really do find everything on beaches, from fancy leather shoes, to recliner sofas, and the usual haul of micro plastics, bottles, cans, sweet wrappers and baby wipes it is simply amazing what ends up on the beaches around Northern Ireland, especially in such beautiful areas as Ballywalter beach.
A big thank you also to ISL Waste Management who collected all of the litter for us and will sort it all out to make sure none goes to landfill, with most being recycled, composted or used in energy recovery.
We really do need to reconnect with the ocean and its environment if we are going to save it. Go out, smell the waves, sink your toes in the sand and listen to the sounds of the ocean. Get lost in it for a while.
The Ocean has a very special way of making you feel both large and infinitely small all at the same time. But its vast blue embrace will always welcome you home. You just need to be there to feel it.
Please refuse all single use plastics and recycle as much as you can.
Blue Skies and rock pools
The soft sands of Ballywalter Beach
A handfull of micro plastics
Just one of many bags filled to the brim with trash
Crazy the things you find on beaches
Fancy a seat anyone?
We found 7 gloves just like this in a small stretch of beach
Two volunteers dug this out of the sand.
15 bags in 3 hours. Not including 3 larger lobster nets.