We’ve always been interested in the environment and had often felt dismayed and almost powerless at what what we saw as the pollution of the oceans. Anyway, a couple of years ago we were peering over the cliffs at Old Harry Rocks and watching some rubbish floating about on the waves when a family of kayakers paddle past. We put two and two together, got our own kayaks, joined a kayak club and started cleaning the harbour.

Since we began in June 2018 we have held several organised beach cleans, along with our own regular cleaning excursions, and have collected well over a tonne of rubbish including thousands of plastic bottles from a small area of protected coastline.

Unfortunately, cleaning alone is not enough. We can spend days clearing an area, only to find it covered in litter again within a few months. All that rubbish, those left behind shoes and lost lilos from tourist-filled beaches inevitably wash up somewhere else or, worse still, become submerged and hidden. We need to find ways to stop the litter getting there, and encourage people to stop producing so much in the first place.

Plastic has its place, when used in the right way it is an incredible material. However it lasts a really long time, it won’t ever really disappear, just degrade into smaller and smaller pieces, to be consumed or absorbed by smaller and smaller life forms and thus become embedded in our food chain. If there are microplastics in the water, there’s microplastics in the fish. If we then eat those fish, it’s in us too. In recent studies it was found that 100% of the world’s mussels now contain plastic. A frightening statistic, but no surprise when 10 million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in our oceans every year.

In response to this, we signed up for the SAS plastic free initiative in a bid to get Poole recognised as a plastic free community. It doesn’t mean we need to eliminate plastic entirely, but we do need to use it more sparingly and dispose of it in a responsible way.

Thanks to everyone that has got involved with this project, whether that be cleaning the beaches, harbour and surrounding area, helping to organise things or providing equipment and services. We really couldn’t do any of this without you and it just goes to show what a little co-operation and a lot of determination can achieve.