This weeks momentous movement of activism in Scotland has continued with collective actions both on the streets and on the beaches!
As I joined thousands of people on the Princes Street in Edinburgh today to demonstrate our collective demands for political actions to be taken to stop climate change I was heartened by the knowledge that tens of thousands of people across the rest of Europe and the world where also taking action on the streets to influence our politicians. The colourful, witty explicit placards and costumes spoke volumes and few formal speeches were needed.
The messages on the placards also drew attention to issues of pollution and the need to take personal action to help our environment. This is exactly what about 50 people did yesterday on Cramond beach as together we took part in the 2014 Beach Watch weekend organised by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) as part of the national and international monitoring of the state of our beaches.
Cramond Beach has many important memories for me as its the beach I launched my first Crowd Funding appeal for my project and where I was first instructed in the MCS’s very detailed, internationally accepted method of beach litter surveying . Yesterday I joined the ‘political action’ on the beach and teamed up with local residents Claire and Oliver who were also returnees to the surveying, together we made up one of the 10 teams that scrutinised a ten metre section of 100m of the beach carefully marked out.
As we slowly zigzaged our way down the beach from the hightide line to the low water mark , we quickly fell into discussing the particular litter problem that this beach suffers from and that has been witnessed here on successive years of surveys that is the vast amounts of sanitary cloths. The ‘cloths’ we find are some kind of mixed cotton and plastic fibres we think they could be some form of changing or incontinence pads. At first they are almost imperceptible as they are matted in with the sand and only a few fibres poke through the surface, but as usual you soon become adept at spotting the ‘cloths’. The pads were duly pulled out of the seaweed and sand and bagged up. Our team collected 310 pieces of the pads/cloths in our 10m stretch of beach. The questions are echoed in each survey team – where do they all come from ? Have they been dumped at sea? Are the coming down the sewage system? The MCS suggested that the reason for this amount of sanitary litter is that the cost of collection of this sort waste by sanitary disposal companies is so much that homes/institutions keep on flushing them down the toilets, reaching the beach through the storm drains which don’t all have filters ?
After the group tally of 107kg of litter collected in the survey area, I take one of my own strandline walks where I note down everything I see. I decided to exclude the cloths from my list as I had seen enough in the sand and caught between the stones on the storm drain stream and I concentrate just on litter that had product names :
Mars – Iron Bru – Castol Oil – Maltesers – Sinsbury’s – Kellogs – Strathmore Water – Pot Noodles – Coke a cola – Asda – Co-op –Milkyway – Tesco
So my overriding memory of Cramond Beach on Beach Watch day was of Product Wrapers and sanitary pads! But by the end of the clean up action Cramond Beach was much cleaner over 300kg of litter had been removed through the mornings ACTIVISM !