This is the Solent foreshore within the New Forest National Park in Hampshire where wildfowl gather and ponies wander free. Looking ahead to 2022, I have made a commitment to spend a total of 25 hours clearing this area of plastic pollution as part of Keep Britain Tidy’s Million Mile Mission. They reckon I will be walking nearly 75 miles, whilst collecting litter.
This is not difficult as I live near the Solent shore. It is a beautiful area, part of the Crown Estates, but sadly we have to continually clear it of rubbish washing in on the tide.
Danger, in the form of broken bottles, lies in the mud.
I need to take great care when looking for flotsam with my dog. What of the wild animals – geese, swans and egrets? They need their feet.
We always collect a bucket full of plastic pollution, usually removing 2-4Kgs a day, made up of about 160 pieces, many of which are tiny.
The short pieces of green PVC rope are known as ‘sea-kisses’, the remains of old fishing nets shredded and discarded at sea.
Can you see the glinting shard of green glass (above)? It could easily be missed. I find a lot of tennis balls used by dog walkers despite the lead content being toxic.
It’s no wonder that seabirds die with stomachs full of plastic. You can see they have been pecking this inner sole looking for calcium normally gained from cephalopods.
There is always heavy plastic and glass, often a cap.
This peak may have floated over from France. There are sometimes larger items.
This canvas deck cover was 6 metres long and too heavy for me to carry home. Custom-made, it must be sorely missed and expensive to replace.
I must report this enormous marker buoy. It’s the third I’ve found.
People are naughty. Someone shoved a large metal baking tray smelling of fish under one of these bushes. It was heavy – too big for my bucket.
Odd things like forks are often left on the beach.
I have no idea what distance this crate has floated but Box Pool Solutions are based in Peterhead, north of Aberdeen, about 650 miles from the beach where this ended up.
How far has this bottle floated? It was made in South Korea.
Some of the litter is quite elderly.
This polystyrene beam had been languishing on private land bordering the shore for years.
I reported this to the estate manager but it was not collected and broke into pieces, which are time consuming to collect.
Some of the rubbish has grown into the landscape and is not easy to extract.
Why people keep leaving litter on beaches astounds me. Someone was obviously having a Funki cocktail party on the beach. One of the bottles was half full. The Council bin can’t be missed.
Far more worrying are the florescent light bulbs I keep finding washed up on the shore. Over the years I have come across these four, washed up on the Solent – intact! If broken the toxins within are said to pollute 30,000 litres of water. It’s illegal to throw anything off a ship but I’m told that men are ordered to chuck these off rigs, despite the fact they contain mercury.
How long will it be before we are unable to consume fish from the sea? I’m also finding blobs of sewer fat and palm oil, dangerous to dogs.
The important thing is to keep going. Our wildness areas will turn into rubbish dumps if we don’t. If you would like to take action and join Keep Britain Tidy’s Million Mile Mission, please click here.
You can read about the Million Mile Mission here
I have more photos of flotsam on an earlier post here
New Forest Litter Picker of the Year 2021
5 thoughts on “Diary of a Litter Picker: My New Year’s Commitment to Keep (the coast of) Britain Tidy”
It’s absolutely incredible what you find on the beach, some items of which are, presumably, accidental loss, but some are just selfish, lazy dumping. You deserve the thanks of all of us for helping to keep our beaches clean and safe; thank you Sophie.
Thank you for your support. I got so distracted collecting flotsam last night that I lost my dog for two hours! Exhausting.
I’m very sorry to hear that. I hope he was okay when you finally found him.
He was fine! I had very wet feet having searched boggy woodland.
I’m very sorry about your wet feet, but very relieved that your dog was alright.