Posted: 30.06.20 at 09:15 by Joseph Bulmer
Sidmouth Plastic Warriors, an environmental group set up to highlight the damage irresponsible human behaviour can have on the marine environment, will not be conducting beach cleans for the next two weeks. The group has announced it is on strike.
A recent influx of beach users, anti-social behaviour and littering has pushed the group to its limits as it attempted to keep the beach clean. A job already made difficult by social distancing rules.
The plastic warriors say they will ‘let people sit in their own filth, let people realise that breaking glass or burying barbecues on the beach is a terrible idea, let other people deal with discarded masks and tissues’.
During the strike the group plans to engage with local groups and individual to work together to find a solution to the problems the town is facing.
A spokesperson for Sidmouth Plastic Warriors said: “Sidmouth's businesses and those employed by them have had it unbelievably tough and many are in danger of closing. Most rely on people coming back to our town, and the beach is the main draw. However, if people find our beach covered in rubbish they won't come back. If they experience antisocial behaviour until late in the night, they won't come back. Businesses will close because of the effects of easing lock down, at a time where they need all the help we can give. It will affect all, if the worst happens and many of the town's residents find themselves out of work.
“However, Sidmouth Plastic Warriors was set up to help highlight marine waste, micro-plastics, harm to marine wildlife and changing behaviour, through doing regular beach cleans and school talks, and as a means of uniting those of us who care. We are all passionate about the sea, the beach and our planet. It was not set up to clean up after people who are treating our beach like an anarchic playground. At the moment we can't even do big clean-ups because of social distancing, but our great volunteers have been doing as much as they can on their own. But I repeat it is not our job or desire to just clean up after people.
“Secondly, is it in the council's ability to clean up so much (maybe 8x the normal amount of rubbish for the time of year?) when budgets are stretched to breaking and councils everywhere are facing bankruptcy? More bins, more collections, more people all comes at a cost. Yes we pay council tax but only a tiny fraction comes to local services such as Streetscene. I'm not here to defend councils but I understand more of the issues facing them now. Streetscene have been doing an amazing job coping with the huge amounts of residential waste lock down created.
“Our plan is this: the Plastic Warriors will stop clearing up the beach for two weeks. Let people sit in their own filth, let people realise that breaking glass or burying barbecues on the beach is a terrible idea, let other people deal with discarded masks and tissues. The sea won't thank us in the short term, but in the long term we will be back, and we can get it perfect again as it was a month ago. At the moment we are like magic hidden elves, doing all the work, but our mental health is suffering greatly and we are not teaching anyone anything!
“During this period of inactivity we would like to bring together our community groups, sports teams, pubs, restaurants and businesses, indeed any organisation who wants to work together, maybe organise a virtual meeting, to come up with solutions that will help our town prosper, our visitors to learn how we work, and our young people to see what a difference we can all make when working together.
“Email [email protected] if you are interested in helping to formulate some sort of plan. (First simple idea; if the supermarkets could stop selling disposable barbecues we’d be grateful as they are the single most destructive and dangerous things we pick up; followed in close joint second by plastic bottles/lids and tomato sauce sachets from takeaways!)
“We need to be a united force, all working together with the same message – survival. It is only by actively working together that we will beat this threat to our town, and come up with solutions for a successful way forward.”
For more information on Sidmouth Plastic Warriors, click here.