I recently got asked: "Why do you even bother beach cleaning? It all just washes up again tomorrow. Aren't there better uses of your time?" A completely innocent question really, surely there are better uses of my time than picking up other peoples trash on a public beach?
So. I thought I'd respond, encase anybody else was wondering, why I beach clean, and if they should keep beach cleaning too. Here's six of the most basic reasons.
1) Its nice to be outside and on the beach. I get a headache sitting at my screen campaigning and advocating for large scale plastic use change. Yes, because I do both. Top down policy change is super important. Social media posts are (annoyingly) important. Bottom up and on the ground is also super important. For selfish reasons, I like to break the cycles of these two objectives with each other. Time indoors, time outdoors.
2) It's healthy. Walking along a beach, squatting, to pick up plastic is good for my body. Squat it out!
3) It's a good example to set. I always get people saying thank you, joining in or confused. Seeing people picking up the plastic is a good example to set, where ever in the world you are. Igniting a gentle, thought provoking conversation starter, is good.
4) It makes the beach nicer. I want to enjoy the beach- and it's not enjoyable when it's covered in plastic. It improves my own and local enjoyment of the beach.
5) It has an impact on wildlife. Although you might think its a small impact, and yes probably more will wash up tomorrow- the plastic does have an impact. In fact, it has the potential to kill a lot of wildlife, because once one Turtle eats that bag- and dies, and decomposes, there is the next opportunity to be eaten... Every little helps. Whilst my beach cleans help remove some rubbish now, the earlier part of the day in which I campaign for less plastic production, I hope will help the problem later down the line. If the plastic in the environment already, is never cleared up- that plastic will continue to pollute.
6) I am aware that multifaceted approaches to plastic are what will solve the problem eventually. Whilst we need policy change and legislation to limit companies who aren't willing to play ball- due to their corporate social responsibility alone. But we also need lifestyle change and to resolve what is already in the environment. I strive for balance.
These are the most obvious, sometimes selfish reasons I enjoy getting outside and being practical with my campaigning- and why you should too. Yes, beach cleans can sometimes be sad, demotivating and endless but the rewards are so much better. They can benefit your health, mentally and physically as well as OUR environment whilst spreading a practical message.
So next time I'm asked, whats the point? The reply I'll give is, why not.