Beautiful Whitsands Bay is in the South East of Cornwall, since it is very close to Plymouth, I visit regularly. I often find plastic, and rubbish on the beach here, but I have never seen it like this before.
When Jen and I headed to the beach on Sunday 19th February, originally to collect sea glass for making jewellery, we were amazed to see it completely covered in plastic pellets (or Nurdles as they are often called) and other small pieces of plastic. Every strand line on the beach was littered with black and grey plastic pellets; at first they were disguised, and looked like small rocks, but with closer inspection it was clear that the beach was covered in Nurdles.
The sheer amount of these tiny round pellets was overwhelming, there was no way two people could collect all of these, and it would be nearly impossible without also collecting tonnes of stones and sand.
Soon we started filling our bags (originally designed to be filled with sea glass!), but despite both collecting all we could, we only removed about 5% of what was on the beach.
Since the Great Nurdle Hunt last weekend, the presence of these plastic pellets on UK beaches has received large amounts of media attention. Seeing a beach completely covered in micro plastics makes me feel sick and completely overwhelmed; imagine, if this many are present on one little beach in Cornwall, how much must be floating around our oceans.
These plastic pellets are often confused with fish eggs, and are consumed by other fish, once in the stomach they will make their way up the food chain. Additionally, plastic acts as a sponge to chemicals, and thus takes these chemicals on the journey up the food chain, eventually these plastics and chemicals accumulate in large fish and marine mammals!
The solution to this problem is to tackle the source, stop plastic getting into the environment and for humans to reduce our plastic consumption. Plastic should be treated as a precious, finite resource, not disposable and cheap!