Two hundred and fifty volunteers in County Louth and another 175 in Meath are set to join Clean Coasts for the Big Beach Clean this September 15th to 17th to make a positive impact on the Irish coast and waterways.
Supported by Cully and Sully, the Big Beach Clean is part of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) organised by the Ocean Conservancy, and it entails an annual call-to-action for individuals, families, and communities to join forces to carry out a clean-up at the end of the bathing season and join a worldwide citizen science project.
Volunteers are set to host a beach clean or join an existing one
In 2022, more than 500 clean-up events were organised, with participants removing an astounding 42 tonnes of litter from Irish coastal areas and inland locations. With Clean Coasts celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the 2023 Big Beach Clean aims to surpass all expectations and make an even bigger impact.
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The results of the annual survey of coasts and inland waterways by business group Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) have recently been released and they show that, for the first time since IBAL started its coastal surveys in 2017, no area was classified as a litter blackspot in 2023.
However, despite a summer marked by lower visitor numbers due to unsettled conditions, the study of 33 locations nationwide unveils that the majority of beaches still fall short of attaining a clean status.
As the bathing season comes to an end, Clean Coasts volunteers once more demonstrated their willingness to get involved and tackle the marine litter problem by registering for this call-to-action. Volunteers around Ireland who wish to get involved but didn’t register, can still do so, by joining an existing public clean-up.
Clean-ups will be happening in various locations, including Rathcor Beach, Bellurgan Point and Greenore port in Louth and Clean-ups and Portrane Beach, Athboy, Mornington Beach, Gormanston Beach and Bettystown Beach in Meath.
A list of public clean-ups happening in County Meath as part of the Big Beach Clean can be found on the Clean Coasts website.
. A list of clean-ups happening in County Louth as part of the Big Beach Clean can be found on the Clean Coasts website https://cleancoasts.org/our-initiatives/big-beach-clean/
Joining forces with the An Taisce National Spring Clean programme, the Big Beach Clean encourages residents from all corners of Ireland to participate. Urban litter has been identified as a significant contributor to marine litter, underscoring the importance of even non-coastal communities in preventing litter from entering waterways and oceans.
A unique opportunity to join a worldwide citizen science project
This year, Clean Coasts are encouraging volunteers to focus on the importance of submitting information regarding litter removed. By recording the amount and types of litter collected, volunteers contribute to a comprehensive overview of the marine litter problem.
The information collected is used to shape Clean Coasts' campaigns, events and resources for volunteers, initiating targeted actions against the top litter offenders. For instance, in 2022, the top three items recorded during the Big Beach Clean weekend were cigarette butts, plastic food wrappers and plastic pieces. These results were a starting point for the development of the Clean Coasts Anti-Smoking Litter campaign, as well as the creation of new resources for the Break Up With Plastic campaign.
Furthermore, data collected are shared with Ocean Conservancy, who will use the information received to create reports and advocate around the world to tackle ocean trash at a global scale.
Colum O’Sullivan, aka Sully, from Cully and Sully said: "As big fans of the sea, we’re thrilled to be sponsoring the Big Beach Clean for a fourth year. It’s not just about giving our beaches a good combing over after the busy summer months. As we clean the beaches and waterways, we’re all being reminded how important it is to dispose of and recycle our waste properly."
Sinead McCoy, Coastal Communities Manager, commented: "Join us in the Big Beach Clean 2023 and be part of a powerful movement to protect our coastlines. Together, we'll create a cleaner, healthier environment for all."