Operation Clean Up 2018 Summary

December: Ballyhalbert

At this our final Beach Clean of 2018 with the help of our 11 amazing volunteers we managed to remove 27 bags of litter and other large items from the shoreline.

We found fishing nets, several complete or partial tires, various broken fishing and crab cages, several large plastic pipes and poles and even a large section of a purple and yellow speed boat. Not to mention the bags filled to the brim with cans, plastic bottles, plastic bags and other micro plastics that littered the shore line all along the beach.

In just over 2 hours we had covered a mile of coastline and we could not have done it without everyone's help. It was our third clean up in Ballyhalbert and once again the coastline told a now familiar story. Piles of nets and broken cages, tires, plastic and ropes tangled in the seaweed and piles of single use bottles, packaging and other items wedges and trapped amid the boulders that form the seawall. At times it was hard work, but as you rounded the bend and saw the piles of broken nets, cages and other large items washed ashore in the storm, we knew that our hard work would result in another large amount of waste being removed from the ocean. And as if we needed another sign the sky gave us a beautiful rainbow. At first faint and silver but soon the colours shone through as we worked to remove the final large pieces of debris.

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Our First Year:

Since we started Operation Clean Up on December 16th 2017, we have held 25 clean up events all over Northern Ireland. We have had the amazing support of more than 300 volunteers of all ages and communities. With our largest turnout at Ballyholme beach where more than 100 people came down to support us in our efforts to keep Northern Ireland clean and beautiful. We have worked with several schools, scout troops and summer schemes to help educate the kids and adults on the issues surrounding ocean pollution and the challenge we face when it comes to plastic, waste and sustainability.

At each clean up we have averaged more than 20 bags full of litter and waste with many clean ups finding other large items such as tires, discarded fishing nets and other large various plastic items.

Combined with our own efforts it takes to total waste removed to 529 bin bags full of litter and plastic waste in just under 12 months. And with some extra work from us and ISL waste management we have managed to send more than 8900 recyclables back into the system that otherwise would have ended up in the ocean.

The problem is vast and widespread. It's not just a question of littering and fly tipping. It is a widespread problem of over consumption and unnecessary plastic packaging that is used once and discarded without thought of where it goes after we put it in the bin. In order to make a difference we need to move beyond clean ups and recycling and start to really focus on stopping this waste at its source. If it cannot be recycled, reused or composted, then it needs to be redisgned, replaced or removed from our lives and our shops. We need to personally take responsibility for our waste and do our best to limit the amount of waste we produce. We need the supermarkets and businesses to get on board to and not just ditch straws and plastic cups in 3 years time. But to act now and start to cut out all non recyclable waste.

This a problem that will affect us all. And so it is up to all of us to make the changes necessary to reverse the damage we have done and to prevent its continued destruction in the oceans, forests and our streets. For our sake, and the animals who dwell there.

You can help support us in our continued efforts to tackle to growing problems of pollution and plastic waste in the oceans and natural places of the world by attending our events or purchasing some items from our online store which includes a range of zero waste items to help you make a big difference to your own plastic footprint and help reduce the amount of waste we all generate on a daily and yearly basis.

A few special thanks;

To ISL and Ards and North Down Borough Council for helping with the pick up and removal of the bags and waste we clean from the beaches and other areas across Northern Ireland, Thank you.

To Trufalufagus Vegan Yums and Mucho Vegan Cakes for supplying the cakes, food and treats for our Bog Vegan picnic and beach clean, thank you

To all of the members of Vkind who have supported attended and shared our events online, thank you.

To Leslie Crawshaw for helping us when we first started and for providing lots of useful tips, thank you.

And finally to all of you who have come down to the clean ups and supported us throughout the year, Thank You.

#singleuseplastic #microplastic #plasticfree #plasticpollution #plastic #plastickills #OperationCleanUp #veganactivist #beachclean #ballyhalbert #northernireland #ardsandnorthdown #environmenal #environmentalism #oceans #oceanconservation #conservation #reconnect

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