Thursday, 28 July 2016

Wet Wipes Turn Nasty!

Sea Champions have been busy pledging their support for MCS's new Campaign - Wet Wipes Turn Nasty! Emma Cunningham, Senior Pollution Campaigns Officer tells us a bit more about it.

So what's the problem and why should we care?

Wet wipes are ending up as litter on our beaches, causing massive problems for us and our wildlife. Thanks to our flushing habits, we have seen a 400% increase in the average levels of wet wipes on British beaches over the last decade.

However, it’s not all our fault that we're so confused. Some wet wipes have such tiny print or “do not flush” logos on the back that you probably wouldn’t notice them. Combine this with the fact that many flushable and non-flushable products look identical and it’s clear why many consumers are confused about what to do. We even found a couple of packs of “flushable” wet wipes with “harmful to aquatic life” written on the back of the packaging! However, even those labelled as flushable, dispersible or moist toilet tissue aren’t meeting the water industry standards and can result in clogged up pipes and drains, risking raw sewage being flooded back into our homes or raised into our waterways and seas.

We found almost 4,000 wipes on UK beaches during one single weekend last September (MCS Great British Beach Clean). This is unsightly, but why else should we care?

There’s the economic reasons: it costs from £66 to £200 for a plumber to unblock drains that have been clogged by wet wipes, and it costs the water companies £80 to £90 million a year (which is also paid for by us through higher customer bills). And if you don’t care about the litter on our beaches and your children playing in stuff that has come through the sewerage system on the beach, or how much it costs us all in blockages, have a thought for the wildlife. These wet wipes typically contain plastic and once in our seas this plastic forms part of the greater problem of microplastics at sea. This microplastic, once in the oceans, is eaten by zooplankton, which forms the base of the food chain; they are eaten by the fish we eat.

What can we do about it?

Firstly it's simple, if you use a wet wipe, don't flush it. Remember the golden rule, only pee, poo and paper down the loo.

Secondly, we're asking high street retailers to cut the confusion and clearly state on their labels that only pee, poo and paper should go down the loo. Please join our battle against the wet wipe monsters, sign the MCS petition for clearer labelling at and spread the word!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Friends of Shoreham Beach Spring Clean

One of the great things about the Sea Champions project is getting to work with other fantastic organisations and groups for a common cause. Sea Champion Andy has been helping out the Friends of Shoreham Beach Group who were recently awarded some funding to start a new beach cleaning initiative. Here he tells us a little more about it. 

A cool, blustery afternoon on 24th April saw the Friends of Shoreham Beach (FoSB) Spring Beach Clean.  25 adults and 8 children gathered at Shoreham Fort, and carried out a sweep of the shingle shoreline. It was mostly the usual plastic litter, bottles, caps, fishing material and sweet wrappers, much of it swept in by the storms earlier in the year.

This event also marked the launch of a new initiative, TUTT (Tidy Up the Tide Line) made possible by a donation from the HP Beach Clean Up Fund.  The fund has allowed FoSB to purchase child-sized litter pickers and florescent vests for family beach cleaning.  It will feature monthly or bi-monthly one hour family focused beach cleans along the tideline where most of the debris accumulates. TUTT will also include talks on things of interest relevant to the beach and the adjacent local nature reserve and have competitions and “most unusual object” and generally encourage a “care for your beach” attitude amongst the young.

HP Beach Clean Up Fund was set up by HP in conjunction with the Marine Conservation Society and Keep Britain Tidy, following a storm at sea in 2014 that resulted in the loss of HP printer cartridges which are being found washed up on UK and other European coastlines.  The fund supports non-profit organisations, individuals and local authorities who are undertaking, or planning to undertake beach litter clean ups on UK beaches in areas where HP cartridges have been found.

Ed Santry, MCS Volunteer and Community Engagement Manager (South East England) extended his congratulations to FOSB and said he was pleased to see the money going to a worthy active clean up group.

The efforts of the beach clean resulted in at least 30 refuse sacks filled and the afternoon was concluded with a tour of the Napoleonic fort by Friends of Shoreham Fort and a well-earned hot drink from their beachside café.

FoSB are a volunteer group, supported by Adur District Council whose role is to  look after the Local Nature Reserve that is Shoreham Beach and one of its many tasks is organising Beach Cleans.

Click here to find our more about the HP Beach Clean Up Fund