Article 12 for the Gazette written by Vanessa Ryley for Dawlish Against Plastic 26.10.20

Youth Ambassador and Beach Clean Club

Beach cleaning is very different to litter picking. People often imagine that they will find things that others have recently dropped on visits to the beach and that it is not worth doing in the winter, as there will not be much to pick up. This is very far from the truth.

On Saturday 17th October, during a socially distanced clean, some hardy volunteers picked up 37.98kgs of rubbish. There was a large piece of rope that weighed 16.8kgs on its own. We were unable to shift two large car wheels that were near Boat Cove. Unfortunately, these will gradually be leaching microplastics into the sea as they are constantly pounded. There was also a broken, boat windscreen which was very battered and extremely heavy so could not be taken for weighing. It was taken off the beach and put beside the nearest bin. The council quickly removed it.

Generally, when the seas are rough and seaweed is brought in to the shore it hides thousands of smaller pieces of plastic which have gradually been broken up by the motion of the sea, plus almost unrecognisable drink cans, pieces of fishing line, scraps of fabric and a myriad of other items.

A recent addition in the Dawlish area are many large pieces of black, rubbery foam type material which have been used between the sections of the new wall. These are gradually being broken off by the sea and washed away only to reappear on the shore at Boat Cove and Red Rock. You can see bits of it sticking out from the sea side of the new wall in many places. This begs the question, ‘How far will it travel and where will it be found next?

As care of and respect for the marine environment is fundamental to our survival as a species on earth, it is difficult to understand why we continue to abuse it in so many ways. For billions of people around the world, sea food is their primary source of protein and yet we have filled the oceans with plastic waste that ultimately ends up in our food chain.

Up to 70% of the air we breathe is produced by marine plants and the sea is able to store around 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere. The Earth’s water supply is contained in the oceans and our fresh water supplies are regenerated from the sea through the water cycle. The world’s oceans are the biggest regulator of the planet’s climate, supporting all life on earth.

These are a few of the reasons why members of Dawlish Against Plastic want to do all that we can to reduce pollution in our oceans whether it is through raising awareness in the media, encouraging businesses to reduce single use plastic or through encouraging people to take up practical activities such as beach cleaning.

As Covid 19 continues to curtail many of our usual activities, Dawlish Against Plastic has launched a new Beach Clean Club. Anyone can join and can borrow our equipment on a long-term loan for a small deposit. Health and safety information is provided. Once you become a member you can then carry out beach cleans safely and at a time convenient to you and those in your social bubble. Please contact us through our Facebook page, Dawlish Against Plastic or through our website: or ring: 07791464995 for further information.

My last piece of news is that we have been joined in our fight to reduce single use plastic by a very determined, knowledgeable, and resourceful 7-year-old girl. Two of us recently met up with Katherine Dawson and her mum, Rosie. We were so impressed by what she had to say that we invited her to become a Dawlish Against Plastic youth ambassador. She has already produced a video about using non-plastic Christmas decorations this year which contains some great ideas to keep families busy in the run up to what could turn out to be a very different festival. You can watch the video on our Dawlish Against Plastic Facebook page. Great to have you with us, Katherine.