Pair's decade of litter-picking in Weston shows reality of plastic in our oceans

PUBLISHED: 10:00 07 April 2018

Dean Harris and Steven Harrison at Marine Lake in Weston.

Dean Harris and Steven Harrison at Marine Lake in Weston.

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A pair of environmental volunteers who have been picking up litter on Weston-super-Mare's beach for 10 years say their records highlight the extent of the problem in our oceans.

Join our Cleaner Coastlines campaign.Join our Cleaner Coastlines campaign.

Dean Harris and Steven Harrison have been litter-picking on Marine Lake’s beach area since 2008 and have collected 9,000 items from the small cove.

They have meticulously recorded their findings over the past 10 years, and it gives a valuable insight into how much waste is found on our beaches – particularly plastic.

The Mercury launched its Cleaner Coastlines campaign alongside Weston Chamber of Commerce and North Somerset Council to highlight the plastic pollution issue and gain plastic-free coastline status for Weston.

MORE: One weekend, two beach cleans – how to get involved in our plastic-free campaign.

Dean and Steven started collecting rubbish in 2008 after a particularly busy day in the summer.

Steven said: “That evening we found flip-flops, sand buckets, portable barbecues and used wet wipes and they were all left for the sea to wash out.

“We were most horrified people could be so ignorant of the effects they were having on the coast by simply not taking their rubbish to a bin which was located about 30 yards away.”

They continued to carry out clean-ups, using the Marine Conservation Society’s recording charts to document their findings.

Dean said: “We started to realise what a massive problem marine litter was way back in 2008 when we started the litter-picking.

“It occurred to us this little cove, among thousands around our beautiful coastline, was just the tip of the iceberg.

“If we could pick up so much litter from one little beach then how much was out there in the sea floating about. It blew our minds.”

MORE: Plastic-free business heroes: First businesses recognised for efforts to rid town of single-use plastic.

The statistics show Dean and Steven have collected 3,502 plastic and polystyrene items, made up of bottles, wrappers, bags, takeaway containers and cups.

They have also picked up 2,673 pieces of paper waste, such as packaging, and 1,014 items of metal waste, including cans and disposable barbecues.

Dean added: “Everyone needs to contribute to the efforts of improving our world for a lasting environmental legacy.”

To join the Mercury’s campaign, search for Cleaner Coastlines: Weston and North Somerset plastic-free campaign on Facebook.

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