Sustain Catches Up with the Cornwall Beach Clean Organisation on the Importance of Keeping Our Oceans Clean!
We talk to The Beach Clean Project in Falmouth about how they make their beach clean events more fun for the community, and what they're doing to live sustainably during lockdown!
Hi! Tell us about yourself, your organisation and where you are based!
The Beach Clean Project is a student-led initiative which is based at the Penryn Campus in Cornwall, which is shared by University of Exeter and Falmouth University students.
The society was set up a few years ago, but the current committee has been running it for 2 years now. Our goals are to educate students about the impacts of plastic pollution while allowing them to explore Cornwall through our various beach clean trips and activities.
How did the organisation come about?
The organisation as it is today came about through the collaborative efforts of our current committee and the group’s founders. Myself and our current Events Rep Rhiannon had recently become ambassadors for an organisation called Big Blue Ocean Cleanup, and wanted to bring a similar group to the Penryn Campus to allow students to get involved with the beach cleaning movement. We then found out about the Beach Clean Project, which at the time wasn’t doing a lot due to having a small committee, so we all worked together to bring it to where it is today!
Can other members of the community join on beach cleans? Or is it strictly for university students?
Everyone can join! We want our events to be inclusive as possible! We regularly run community events with local non-student groups to make sure we provide a safe space for students and the local community to have a chat with each other over the common goal of keeping our local area, whether that be beaches, streets or anything, clean!
It says on your site that you are beach cleaning but with a difference, could you tell use more about that?
We know a lot of organisations which just do beach cleans, and that’s great, but we wanted to provide something that all of our members could enjoy! Falmouth is a very artsy area, so we wanted to ensure we provided activities which fit within that idea.
We have worked with various local artists who use plastic and other items found on beaches as their medium. Michelle Costello came to run a workshop with us in February 2019, where we repurposed all of the plastic which we’d found on beaches to create something beautiful.
We also ran a weaving workshop with weaver Susannah Bolton, who showed us how to create our own twine using fishing net fibres and make something completely new!
How do you repurpose something that you find in the beach cleans?
There are lots of organisations which specialise in creating absolutely amazing things out of beach litter. Groups like Clean Ocean Sailing and 2 Minute Beach Clean for example donate a lot of their rubbish to companies like Ocean Odyssey who can make kayaks out of it, which is incredible!
We use our litter in other ways, such as creating decorations for events that we run which can be reused and creating art!
On your social media your involvement in sustainable issues goes further than just beach cleaning, how else do you think your organisation has helped our environment?
In 2019, we ran a ‘Plastic Free Week’ where we organised a series of events designed to educate people about the impacts of plastic pollution on our environment. This event went past just beach cleaning by providing suggestions for how we can try and turn off the plastic tap by limiting our single-use plastic consumption.
Tell our readers the importance of joining in, in their local beach clean.
In 2019, we ran a conference about plastic pollution. Martin Dorey, the founder of the #2minutebeachclean initiative came along. His entire message is that you don’t need to spend an age cleaning a beach. Even if you don’t want to come to a beach clean (we won’t force you!) even just picking up one piece of rubbish a day, whether that be on the beach or in-land, can make the biggest difference. You picking up even one thing and putting it into the bin, means that there’s one less thing that can end up in the ocean and harming our wildlife.
Do you have any tips to stay sustainable in lock down?
Yes! We’ve actually just started a little social media campaign sharing our favourite sustainability tips on our Instagram @thebeachcleanproject and our Facebook! Our favourites so far have been to sew wildflower seeds in your garden, make a bird house out of reused materials and finding cool ways to preserve any leftovers you might have instead of wasting them.
Do you have any good advice to offer our readers on how to start living more sustainably?
Being imperfectly sustainable is better than nothing at all. If you’re looking for inspiration and new ideas, I’d really recommend checking out The Lazy Environmentalist for achievable ways to be sustainable. Don’t aim to be perfect right away.
Do you have any other messages you’d like to promote?
Unfortunately we don’t have any events running at the moment due to the lockdown restrictions, but we always love hearing from people who are excited about the environment and who have event ideas for us! At the moment we’re asking for you to tell us how you’re being sustainable during the lockdown, so if you’ve got any ideas, tips or tricks then let us know!
What’s next for the Beach Clean Project and where can our readers find you online?
At the moment the Beach Clean Project are searching for a new committee for next year! If you’d like to enquire please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a message on Facebook www.facebook.com/ConservingCornwallsCoasts . You can also find us on instagram @thebeachcleanproject and twitter @beachcleanproj.
Illustrations by Estée Angeline