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Love your planet, love your beach!

There’s no better feeling than getting down onto the beach, zipping up your wetsuit and heading out into the surf. It’s just the best day out. And later you are heading home again – aching muscles, salt in your hair, the glow of sun on your face and a big smile.

The coast is your haven and the beach is your launch platform. The sand, the pebbles, the rock pools, dunes, cliffs, wildlife. But how can you help care for our coastlines to make sure they remain a place of beauty and refuge, and not just for surfers and beach lovers?

Anything you leave behind on the beach can get into the eco-system, and, as we already know, plastics are one of the worst causes of environmental damage today. That’s because plastic can take hundreds of years to biodegrade. Of course, a lot of your plastic goods like equipment and toys are getting multiple usage but some 40% of all plastic that we use is once-only and then it goes in the bin – or at least it should. Plastic waste put out in our bins from home and office is being increasingly recycled by local councils and this can help reduce the amount of plastic that is in circulation. So that’s the best place to dispose of it.

Yet millions of tonnes of plastic enter the world’s oceans each year and most of that escapes from the land. It’s important to do the beaches a favour – even if bins are provided, take all your rubbish home and dispose of it according to your local waste management plan.

It’s during those days out are that carrier bags, drinks bottles, crisp packets and sandwich cartons are going to be consumed more than they would be at home. The beach cafés rely on your custom, but hey, why not bring your own coffee cup or flask so they can fill that up for you. There are too many disposable coffee cups, many with plastic lids and linings, being left behind.
If you care about the environment just take an extra five minutes at the end of the day to have a look around you. It’s hard not to feel annoyed by other people’s carelessness but you and the friends or family you are with could just do a quick beach clean to pick up other rubbish left near you as well. Every bit of effort is making a difference!

What about the bigger picture of trying to lead life more sustainably? Many of us are now thinking about how we can change our habits to be kinder to the planet. Think about your journey to the beach. Do you really need to bring the car, or is it just a short walk or bike ride? Share a car with your mates. Try to buy your beach kit, t-shirts and wetsuits from companies that are producing them using eco-friendly processes. In fact, there are endless ways in which we can all help in some small way to protect our planet.

And finally, don’t take anything from the beach that calls it home. Did you know that even removing pebbles is illegal? According to Families Online one man from the Midlands had to drive all the way back to Cornwall to return pebbles he had taken from Crackington Beach, near Bude or face a very large fine.